Rikki Byrd is a writer, educator and scholar, with research interests in Black studies, visual culture, fashion history and cultural studies. She received her Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri - Columbia and her Master of Arts in Fashion Studies from Parsons School of Design. Her master’s thesis, Black, the Color We Wear: Representing Blackness in American Fashion, explored how blackness is centered in popular culture and offered a new approach to reimagining dialogue concerning the black body. Since its completion, her research has led her to creating innovative spaces to engage students, scholars and industry professionals in conversations on race and representation.
Her research has appeared at Art Basel: Miami and has been published (or is forthcoming) in various academic journals and books, including BIAS: Journal of Dress Practice, Companion of African American Theatre and Performance, African-American Arts: Activism and Aesthetics and QED: A Journal of GLBTQ Worldmaking. She has also written for Teen Vogue, Art.sy, Hyperallergic, and Racked, among several other media outlets and has interviewed formidable professionals in the arts and fashion including André Leon Talley, Mickalene Thomas and Amy Sherald. She has lectured and participated in panel discussions with Instagram, Google and The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Parsons School of Design, The Barnes Foundation, Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn and Saint Louis Art Museum. She is the founder and editor of the Fashion and Race Syllabus, and was a guest editor for the Spring 2017 International Journal of Fashion Studies, where she curated a special section on Black Fashion Studies. In Fall 2017, she joined the Women and the Kemper board at the Kemper Art Museum. She also co-launched Artists in the Room (AIR) in 2017, a collective that supports emerging Black artists in St. Louis by connecting them with professional Black artists and arts professionals who visit the city. The collective has connected artists with Mickalene Thomas, Sanford Biggers, Larry Ossei-Mensah, among others.
Rikki was most recently a faculty member at Washington University in St. Louis, where she developed new courses on the intersections of fashion and race for the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and the African and African American Studies department. She is currently a Ph.D. student in African American Studies at Northwestern University.