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The holder of a Ph.D. degree in African Studies from the University of Paris, Pierre Verger traveled through various countries between 1932 and 1945 as a as a professional photographer and researcher for the Musée Ethnographique du Trocadéro (Ethnographic Museum of Trocadéro; today the Musée de l'Homme). He eventually settled in the city of Salvador in the Brazilian province of Bahia in 1946, where he explored in depth the black culture of Africa and Brazil, writing several books on the subject. Verger's pioneering work traced strong links between the religion and culture of Dahomey (now Benin) and Brazil. In 1952, while in Dahomey, he was initiated into the Yoruba Religion, given the name Fatumbi, and made a babalawo, or priest, of the Ifa divination system.

Some of Verger's publications include Fiestas y danzas en el Cuzco y en los Andes Celebrations and ...

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Born in Portland, Oregon, Carrie Mae Weems grew up in a working-class family. After studying at California Institute of Arts she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in photography from the University of California, San Diego in 1984. A self-proclaimed “image-maker,” Weems deals with issues of history, gender, and class by combining photographic images and narrative text. Often achingly personal, Weems's images explore issues of bigotry, self-presentation, and relationships by incorporating African American folklore and bigoted or stereotypical narratives into her work. Her early work dealt with issues of family and class and quite often featured Weems and members of her own family. Portraits such as Honey Coloured Boy, Chocolate Coloured Man, Golden Yella Girl and Blue Black Boy—taken with a Polaroid camera and then hand tinted—illustrate both real and unreal varieties of “black” skin, calling into question the category “black” itself.

Weems' Sea ...