Urgent Museum Notice

Samantha Box: Confluences

A black-and-white close-up image shows the face and upper body of a dark-skinned woman as she gazes off to the side. She wears a sleeveless white shirt, chain necklace with heart pendant, and large round earrings inscribed with the word “TAURUS.”
Nov 20, 2024, to Mar 23, 2025

NMWA presents evocative documentary and studio-based photographs by Bronx-based artist Samantha Box (b. 1977, Kingston, Jamaica) in her inaugural solo exhibition in Washington, D.C. Seen together for the first time, Box’s two major bodies of work “Invisible” and “Caribbean Dreams” reveal layered conversations around the intersectionality of nationality, race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.

In her breakthrough body of work, “Invisible” (2005–18), Box photographed a community of New York City’s LGBTQ youth of color living at Sylvia’s Place, the city’s only homeless emergency shelter. She went on to document at-risk transgender and nonbinary youth participating in Kiki ballroom pageants and performances. Her images depict grief, joy, inner conflict, and resolve, signifying the intense bonds between these young people, who often lost their homes and faced discrimination after revealing their sexual identities to relatives and loved ones.

In 2018, Box shifted from documentary photography to a studio-based practice in her ongoing series “Caribbean Dreams.” As the child of a Black Jamaican father and South Asian Trinidadian mother, Box explores her own experiences around her diasporic cultural identity. Staging color still lifes that recall the lush tableaus of 17th-century Dutch painting, Box connects the exploits and long-lasting impacts of colonialism through images of sumptuous, ripened fruit, family heirlooms, self-portraits, and vintage photographs.

This exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Des Moines Art Center (DMAC). NMWA and DMAC are staging concurrent exhibitions of Box’s work in fall 2024, each highlighting a different facet of her practice.

A pixelated image shows a person dressed in white with her arms raised, resting on her head. Placed around her are black-and-white and color photographs of medium- and dark-complexioned women in formal gowns, saris, and school uniforms.

Samantha Box, One Kind of Story, from the series “Caribbean Dreams,” 2020; Digital and physical collage with archival inkjet prints, 40 x 50 in.; Courtesy of the artist; © Samantha Box

Exhibition Sponsors

Samantha Box: Confluences is organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts in partnership with the Des Moines Art Center. The exhibition is generously supported by the members of NMWA.