The Gallery at the Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) today celebrates the opening of Black Health and Wellness, a month-long fine jewelry exhibition from FIT professor Frank T. Fraley that acknowledges both Western medicine and homeopathic practices throughout the African Diaspora. With over 30 years of experience in the jewelry industry, Fraley—owner of Fine Design by Noah—personally curated a collection of roughly 30 pieces of fine jewelry from the Dominican Republic and Ghana. The exhibition, which opens today, is free to the public.
The Black Health and Wellness exhibition uses Fraley’s fine jewelry craftsmanship to tell the story of the many medicinal and wellness practices common throughout Black communities and a nod to this year’s commemoration theme. The showcase honors Black scholars and Western medicine practitioners and doulas, midwives, herbalists, naturopaths, birth workers, and others. Throughout history, people of color have relied on their self-determination to bring proper healthcare to their communities amid rampant discrimination and disparities in mainstream institutions. This includes establishing hospitals, such as the Howard University College of Medicine, and smaller clinics operated by grassroots organizations, including the African Union Society.
While efforts have been made to understand and address physical and mental health in Black communities, the COVID-19 pandemic has again reinforced the inequalities plaguing the healthcare system. Black Americans often look to the rituals, traditions, and healing practices of ancestors, deeply rooted in the culture.
“There are multiple facets to Black health and wellness that need to be better understood and amplified, and others that may need to be questioned and corrected,” said Fraley. “My goal with this exhibition is to expose people to the rich history of medicine throughout the African Diaspora and use this education to bring about the betterment of both our bodies and our communities as a whole.”
In addition to his own experience living and working in the United States, Fraley spent many years teaching jewelry design to artisans in the Dominican Republic. Currently, he serves as a professor of jewelry in the international program at the Dominican Republic’s prestigious Altas De Chavon Art School. Recently, he also traveled to Africa, gaining inspiration from the people of Ghana and their unique designs. Both international travel experiences are at the forefront of the Black Health and Wellness exhibitions in the designs and materials used.
“Frank’s intricate designs and careful attention to detail come together to create a thoughtful look at the past, present, and future of health and wellness in Black communities,” said Michael Coen, Professor, and former chairperson of jewelry design at FIT. “Honoring Black History Month in a unique, authentic way is a difficult task, but I do not doubt that each exhibition visitor will be both inspired and educated after their visit.”
An avid golfer and philanthropist, Fraley has hosted a series of charity golf outings to benefit African American health and wellness causes. He designed the Fulani Golf Bracelet, named for the Fulani people, one of the largest ethnic groups in the Sahel and West Africa, as a beautiful work of wearable art. The Fulani golf bracelet is featured in the exhibit and worn by golfers.
Black Health and Wellness will run through March 15, 2022. For more information about Frank T. Fraley, visit https://www.finedesignbynoah.com/.