The Beautiful Project in The News

Yesterday, February 24th, was the last day of the Pen, Lens & Soul exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Our team is very grateful for all of the responses, reactions, and reflections we received about the exhibit since its opening in December. We are also grateful for the various media outlets that shared about our work on their platforms. Here’s a quick roundup of the press about the Pen, Lens & Soul exhibit that have been published over the last few months.  



Black Girl Magic Is On Display At The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Bridgette Bartlett Royall

“No one loves us, like us.

Black girls don’t regularly see themselves celebrated in mainstream spaces dedicated to the fine arts. In fact, the idea of walking into one of the world’s largest and most acclaimed art museums located on Manhattan’s affluent Upper East Side and seeing us on display, living unapologetically in our many colorful layers, from getting our hair flat ironed at the salon with a Biscuitville cup in the background to being a guest at a family birthday party where plastic cups are meticulously filled with ginger ale seems far fetched; even in 2020.” 

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The New York Times 

‘Beautiful Project’ at the Met: Stories of Southern Black Girlhood by Salamishah Tillet

“On my way into the Metropolitan Museum of Art recently to see “Pen, Lens & Soul: The Story of the Beautiful Project,” an exhibition of poetry and photography by black girls and women based in Durham, N.C., I looked up to its facade. And there I saw Wangechi Mutu’s stately African and divinely inspired female quartet of bronze sculptures.

As I headed to show, at the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education, I began thinking that the spatial difference between these two collections was not a juxtaposition between high art for public viewing and art used for community outreach. Instead they were on a continuum, in which the black girls in the photographs and Mutu’s figures actively challenged the notion of who belongs in those cultural spaces.” 

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Black Girls and Women from Durham Visit Their Art Exhibit at the Met by Khayla Deans

“When the pen is in my hand, what will I write? When the camera’s viewfinder meets my eye, what will I see and capture? How will I leave an impact on this world through my stories and images?

These are a few of the questions that we at The Beautiful Project in Durham ask Black girls and women.

For fifteen years, we’ve worked to cultivate voice and power among Black girls and women to own their narratives and to tell their stories. We exist to challenge the narratives that misrepresent and misuse our likeness in the media and society. We do this work under the pillars of sisterhood and care, recognizing the power of collectivity, community, and belonging.

It is our committed intention to create spaces for Black girls and women to simply be, to feel valued, and to be seen as our full selves.” 

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Meet local young artists contributing to The Beautiful Project – reported by Lena Tillett for WRAL News 


New Metropolitan Museum Exhibition Features Works By Young, Black, Female Artists From North Carolina by Jane Levere

“A new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, “Pen, Lens & Soul: The Story of the Beautiful Project,” presents over a decade of photography and writing by young artists who have been trained to use the camera and pen to document how they see the world and their aspirations.

The Beautiful Project is a North Carolina-based collective founded in 2004 that uses photography, writing and care to advance the representational justice and wellness of black girls and women.  Its black artists, scholars and educators encourage and equip black girls and women to be caretakers of their needs, images and stories.”

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Our Town NY

Beauty, Strength and Promise: The Met showcases photography and writing by young Black women artists by Mary Gregory

“‘Just as you are, I choose you. And I’ll keep making that choice every time I see you.’

It’s called The Beautiful Project, and it truly is. The halls of the Uris Education Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art are covered by inspiring, creative, compelling texts and photographs by young Black women artists. The Met is partnering with the North Carolina organization, The Beautiful Project, whose goal is to assist and support the creative efforts of Black girls who use writing and photography to define, declare, champion, and celebrate themselves and each other.”

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PR Newswire 

The Art of Expression: N.C. Middle-schoolers’ Photography on Display at ‘The Met’ by National Heritage Academies 

“Middle-schooler Lacquen Tolbert beams with pride as she views her art installment at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) as part of The Beautiful Project. Her point of pride, the installment is a tribute to her grandmother.

Tolbert’s installment includes two pieces of photography titled: Self Portrait and Gran-Gran in the Kitchen. Her artwork is on display as part of Pen, Lens & Soul: The Story of The Beautiful Project, which presents more than a decade of work by image makers who create spaces for black girls and women to express their power and beauty.”

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Additional Articles


Art Daily

Paris Photo