One of The Boys (Black)
Study Guide

One of The Boys (Black)

Esmaa Mohamoud


About the study guide

This easy to use guide has been thoughtfully created to assist teachers with their curriculum and lessons.

Download Study Guide
A sculpture of a black wearable dress made from a modified Raptor's jersey on the top and a velvet ballgown on the bottom
Two black models wearing one red and one purple ballgowns in front of a wall of old paintings
Models pose at the Art Gallery of Ontario

About the study guide

This easy to use guide has been thoughtfully created to assist teachers with their curriculum and lessons.

Download Study Guide

About the artwork:

This is One of the Boys (Black), made in 2019. It’s extravagant and maybe even a little surprising, combining two very different kinds of uniforms. The bottom is a billowing ball gown, while the top resembles a sporty basketball jersey. This striking black design is actually one of nine jersey-gowns created by the artist. It’s part of an acclaimed series of wearable sculptures and photography centred around Mohamoud’s whimsical interpretation of a dress and the way it challenges expectations.

About the artist

Esmaa Mohamoud was born in London, Ontario (1992). She is the middle child and has four brothers. Sport was a very important part of her early life, as her father felt it taught the children discipline. Her brothers all played basketball, and for young Esmaa, basketball was a way to bond with them. Mohamoud creates art in multiple disciplines, including sculpture, photography, textiles, video, performance, and installation. Her art uses athleticism as an entry point for conversations about gender and race.

Please preview the short film and then share it with your students. Select one or two guiding questions that reflect your curriculum and can guide student research and inquiry connected to the artwork, artists, and the socio-cultural context in which it was created.

Guiding Provocations:

  • Explore how the artist uses “Juxtaposition” both conceptually and figuratively in her artworks.
  • Consider the ways that the artist uses the concept of “Hybridization” in her series, One of the Boys.
  • These artworks are 3D and wearable. They also challenge perceptions of how we perform gender. In what ways does that artwork challenge literal and conceptual “Point of View”?
  • What fashion trends from different time periods are being used in this artwork?
  • How does the artist play with both historical and contemporary expectations for fashion and portraiture?
  • The artworks were inspired by something Esmaa’s mother said. Write or draw about an event in your life when you did not align without someone’s expectations of you.
  • These artworks are wearable and functional. How does this question what is considered “art”?
  • How does art and sport interact? Compare and contrast these two industries.
  • In what other ways can sport as an entry point to greater dialogues about politics, social justice, equity, gender, and liberation?
  • How does this artwork ask us to interrogate the racial fetishization of Black bodies in sports and entertainment?
  • How does this artwork ask us to interrogate Black masculinity or femininity?
  • How might fashion be a tool for resistance?
  • Create a dance, dramatic scene, original song, poem, or short story where childhood experience bumps up against societal expectations of gender roles.
  • How do we define and experience gender?
  • How does this artwork invite us to question the underrepresentation of women in (professional) sports?
  • Create an original artwork that questions gender norms.
  • Design a series of wearables that play with competing concepts.