Practicum: The Will To Adorn App

Note: I was unable to access the App as it is not currently offered in the U.S. App store. All information is based upon its website and App store description.

Today I will be walking you through the Smithsonian Folkways app that they created called The Will To Adorn.

Viewing Page from App Store

First, to run the app you must have an Apple device such as an IPhone that is able to download the app. As stated above, I was unable to get the app as it is not currently being offered by the U.S. App Store and so I was unable to get the app myself. However, I was able to find screenshots and other useful material for this practicum elsewhere. The Will To Adorn is probably best described by The Will To Adorn website as follows: “The Will to Adorn: African American Dress and the Aesthetics of Identity is a multi-year collaborative folk cultural research and public presentation project initiated by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Through the work and perspectives of museum, academic, and community scholars, and community-based cultural practitioners including artisans and designers from across the nation, this project explores the diversity of African American identities as expressed through the cultural aesthetics and traditional arts of the body, dress, and adornment.”(Diana N’Diaye). The project seeks to address identity and culture and provides ways through the app for the public to be able to submit their own photos. This in essence is a public history project, as it is history by the public, for the public.

The App Store has screenshots of their product that look like the picture below:

Screenshots from the App Store

This app allows for audio recordings based off questions centered around dress and expression. This seems to be the only thing that the app is able to do, along with allowing people to listen to other recordings. However, the website seems to be where the real action would have occurred.

Bottom half of the Homepage for The Will To Adorn

The website allows for people to see things like related articles, research tools, pictures, videos, and more. However, it does not look like it has been updated in a few years, and I could not figure out how to get a login to see if anything was behind the login wall. In addition, the other pages all say to contact an individual if you are interested in the project, and so I was unable to see any of the other tabs work much. Regardless, I think that this was a unique concept that is pretty cool.

2 Replies to “Practicum: The Will To Adorn App”

  1. I completely agree Bryce that this is an interesting concept and it is really disappointing that the app and website weren’t user friendly. I wonder if in the future the Smithsonian or another organization will take up the project again and breathe new life into it. It would be interesting if the Smithsonian worked in conjunction with local or regional artists and created a social media following around this idea. That would allow for digital historians to keep track of debates or comments as well as creating networks that artists and historians could collaborate through.

  2. This is a really interesting app and a cool concept that could potentially be used by historians to track trends and debates in a particular community. I wonder if there could be a way to narrow down the app beyond just the general idea of clothing? Could creators and historians get more specific like with shoes and hats and how they have changed over time?

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