Photographer Danielle Scruggs to exhibit self-portraits at Luther

Photographer Danielle Scruggs has created a series of self-portraits that explore the process of defining herself, given that black women have not always had control over how they are portrayed.

Her large-format, black and white photographs will be on display at Luther College, Feb. 1-March 22, in the Center for Faith and Life. The show coincides with the 10th annual Black History Conference at Luther, which includes a gallery reception and artist's talk at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7.

The exhibit's prints are studies of the texture and patterns of Scruggs' skin, hair and body. In her artist’s statement she says, "It is important for me to create a sense of agency over how I am portrayed and to serve as an example for other black women to tell their own stories. However, it is also just as crucial for me to present myself as simply being, and to show that I am a fully fleshed out three-dimensional person with thoughts, dreams, fears, etc., just like anyone else."

The Black History Conference, Feb. 6-7, titled Body Politic: Cultural Identities and Representations of Black Women's Sexuality, recognizes that representing black women's bodies is a political undertaking. The conference will foster a conversation, exploring such issues as whether consumers of popular culture consider how certain images affect black women's sense of self. For more information on the conference, visit .

A Chicago native, Scruggs now lives and works in Washington, D.C. She was among 15 inaugural fellows chosen to participate in the Public Media Corps, created by the National Black Programming Consortium in 2010 to close the digital divide in historically underserved neighborhoods in Washington. As a fellow, she co-designed digital media arts curricula and taught workshops for high school students.

Scruggs' work has been exhibited in Baltimore, Md.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Lausanne, Switzerland; Los Angeles; and Washington, D.C.

Scruggs is also cofounder and co-curator of Mambu Badu Photography Collective, established in 2010 to find and nurture self-identified women artists of black/African descent. She has also served as visual arts editor for The Liberator magazine, an independent arts and culture journal based in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Danielle Scruggs self-portrait