Smithsonian Institution


The Will to Adorn

Exploring Identity and Adornment
in African American Communities

Jade D. Banks is Research Coordinator, Lead Instructor, a Researcher and a Photographer for The Will to Adorn project of the Smithsonian Institution – which explores the connection between identity and adornment in African American communities.  

Jade conducted 206 classroom workshops, directed 55 filmed interviews and produced 17 stage presentations – in the United States and Virgin Islands – for The Will to Adorn.  She was also a featured panelist, interviewer and presenter at the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival!

Jade’s focus was documenting the following in New York City:

  1.  Style – how people put themselves together from head to toe
  2.  Artisan of Style– creator of style options
  3.  Style Exemplar – one who is well dressed and well put together (also known as a “dress artist”)
  4.  Community of Style – a group of people with similar style sensibilities

The Will to Adorn was conceived by Dr. Diana Baird N’Diaye, curator at The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.





Giving Voice

The Power of Words
in African American Culture

Jade wrote, directed and produced THE BLUES, RAPS, RHYMES AND SNAPS – which explores the spoken word, from Blues to Rap, in the African American community – for Giving Voice.

Giving Voice presented the deep, rich threads of the African American oral tradition at the 2009 Smithsonian Institution Folklife Festival.  Through theater, poetry, storytelling, radio, and humor, the Giving Voice program celebrated the community roots of African American oral expression.

Jade, along with the teen interns of the Dr. Beverly J. Robinson Community Folk Culture Program at Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center, performed in over 20 Giving Voice showcases at the 2009 Smithsonian Institution Folklife Festival.  Additionally, Jade served as a featured panelist and interviewee.