Projects & Profiles

Back To Projects

The Beauty Shop Project

Our group researches how vernacular communal spaces like black beauty shops can be locations of collective creativity and imagination directed toward improving quality of life. Long-term goals include promoting better health and practical life skills, proactive citizenship, and subsequently, stronger communities using creative social practice methods.

Colette Gaiter—a multimedia artist and graphic designer—is an associate professor of Visual Communications in the University of Delaware’s Department of Art. She has a B.F.A. in graphic design from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh and an M.A.L.S. from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. After working as a graphic designer in Washington, D.C., and New York City, Gaiter taught at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, University of Minnesota, and Columbia College Chicago. She has exhibited her work internationally, and at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Studio Museum Harlem, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and numerous other galleries, museums and public institutions in the United States. Spanning multiple media, her work includes digital prints mixed with crocheted fiber, artist books to web sites and interactive installations. She also writes about activist graphic design, particularly the work of Emory Douglas, artist for the Black Panther Party. Her essay, “The Revolution Will be Visualized: Black Panther Artist Emory Douglas” is in West of Center: Art and the Countercultural Experiment in America, 1985-1977. All Power, her video about Douglas’s work, was included in the exhibition Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970. Her writing and visual work investigate creative activism.

Tiffany M. Gill is an associate professor in the Department of Black American Studies and the Department of History at the University of Delaware. She earned a doctorate in American History at Rutgers University in 2003. Her research and teaching interests include African American History, Women’s History, the history of black entrepreneurship, fashion and beauty studies, and travel and migration throughout the African Diaspora. She is the author of Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women's Activism in the Beauty Industry (University of Illinois Press, 2010) which was awarded the 2010 Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize by the Association of Black Women Historians. In addition, she has served as a subject editor for African American National Biography, and has had her work published and reprinted in several journals and edited volumes. Before joining the faculty of the University of Delaware, Gill taught at the University of Texas at Austin and was a recipient of the 2010 Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award for excellence in undergraduate education. Currently, Professor Gill is at work on a book manuscript tentatively titled, “Intentional Tourists: International Leisure Travel and the Making of Black Global Citizens.”

Daneya Jacobs is a modern, enterprising, and enthusiastic native New Yorker, who brings a sharp wit and can-do attitude to her work with the organization she founded, Just BE. The organization now operates under the umbrella of Children and Families First in Wilmington, Delaware. Before moving to Delaware in 2009, she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, where she pursued a degree in fashion merchandising and marketing. While there, she teamed up with like-minded women to develop a “fashion with a purpose” campaign, received $1,000 start-up funding and technical support from Youth Venture – a global non-profit community of young change makers, and put together fashion shows to inspire young girls to be both modest and in vogue. This passion and idea to teach girls to dress in a fashion forward and modest way fueled the work for Just BE. She believes that the media has a huge influence on how young women present, think and speak about themselves. For Jacobs, a perfect vehicle would be to create a publication (and develop programming) that merges content found in health, beauty, and lifestyle magazines like Essence (a publication for black women) and Seventeen (a publication for teen girls).

Elizabeth Lockman is currently pursuing her M.A. in Urban Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Delaware. She supports the Public Allies Delaware (AmeriCorps) program, of which she is an alumna, as a graduate assistant at UD’s Center for Community Research and Service. Fueled by a strong interest in social justice and fostering dialogue among disparate groups, she volunteers extensively in urban revitalization efforts, the arts and in particular as a community engagement leader in local public schools. She is a founder of Wilmington S.T.I.R. (Sitting Together is Radical), a local version of the global micro-granting dinner model Sunday Soup. She has a B.A. of Individualized Study from New York University’s Gallatin School with a concentration in film and linguistics. For fifteen years, she worked in communications, development and production for a range of media companies including Nickelodeon, Lionsgate and HBO, in New York. Most recently, she has worked as a producer for the Delaware production company Teleduction, Inc. and continues to work as a consultant with its nonprofit sister company, Serviam Media, running community outreach programs through its Hearts & Minds Film Initiative.

Strategic, creative, with an eye and heart for innovation, Shefon Nachelle currently works as a Marketing and Communications Associate with the Wilmington HOPE Commission. She began her career as a member of Public Allies Delaware, serving as a Project Coordinator for the HOPE Project; a program that provides case management, mentoring and support services to elementary school children with an incarcerated parent. She is Director of Communications for Just BE, a program that addresses issues of self-esteem through media literacy, mentoring and empowerment education. Shefon was honored in 2013 with the Genevieve Gore Young Women’s Leadership Award through the YWCA of Delaware. She believes powerful movements and organizations grow through powerful messaging. Nachelle is the founder and creator of the Truth Tellers Project, a visual art based story-sharing platform, and is currently pursuing her BA in marketing.