Above: Six mannequin trees at MAAHMG. Photo: Dallas Smith.
Mannequins and Christmas trees usually don’t have much in common, but designer Alicia Smiley discovered otherwise.
Six of her “mannequin trees,” ballgowns made of pine trees combined with mannequin torsos, are on display at the Minnesota African American History Museum and Gallery through the end of December. Since museums are closed until at least Dec. 19, MAAHMG is presenting a virtual version of the exhibition on its YouTube channel.
Smiley designed each one to reflect themes in Black history, art and culture. One tree references the all-Black musical “The Wiz,” a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz” in an African-American context, while another celebrates the Harlem Renaissance. Watch the video to see all the trees.
MAAHMG curator Tina Burnside hopes the trees offer some happiness during this year's bleak holiday season.
“2020 has been quite the year with coronavirus, the killing of George Floyd, the protests and fights for racial justice,” she said. “We wanted to have something more upbeat to celebrate the holidays even though we are all social distancing.”