Note new date and time for reception...


Black African American Women and Their Hats


Art Exhibition

Twenty watercolor portraits of local “Hat Ladies” by artist, Ronald Malone. The exhibition runs February through March 2022, Tuesday through Saturday, 9 am – 5 pm.


Opening Reception

Public Reception Saturday, February 26, 2022, 11:00 AM. Many of the ladies will be a part of the program. Local milliners will be recognized for their contribution to this unique culture.  A milliner is one who makes women’s hats.


Featuring John Fynn, Milliner

Fynn, of Winter Haven created a few of the hats the hat ladies wore for the portraits.  His hats will be featured in the Art Exhibition. He will have hat on display at the reception.  John said, “The Millinery is something I’ve liked, I’ve always been fascinated about hats, because my mom is an avid hat wearer”.

The Polk County History Center

Contact Bartholomew Delcamp, Curator of Collection & Exhibitions, Polk county History Center

100 E Main St, Bartow, FL 33830. Phone: 863-534-4386

The Hat Lady Portrait Series

Ron’s inspiration for the “Hat Lady” portrait series began after seeing two women with their family walk into the local Publix supermarket dressed in their “Sunday-best” and wearing beautiful hats. He was mesmerized by the beauty of this sight.  After a little research, and with the help of Charles Luster, curator for the Luster African American Museum in Bartow, he discovered a fascinating history of Black American women who wore beautiful hats. Black women enslaved during the 17th and 18th century enjoyed dressing up for the weekly church service including wearing beautiful, elaborate hats.

Ladies included in the portrait art exhibition are:

Thema Battle, Bartow, FL

Joyce Bentley, Bartow, FL

Sherrie Bryant, Bartow, FL

Stephanie Campbell, Winter Haven FL

Virginia Cummings Lang, Bartow, FL

Cynthia Downing, Haines City, FL

Emma Jean Downing (deceased), Haines City, FL

Emma Lou Downing, Haines City, FL

Jamie Gaskins, Lakeland, FL

Vera M. Hardee, Mulberry, FL

Lafhonoa Harris, Haines City, FL

Josephine Howard, Haines City, FL

Cynthia Hunter Jenkins, Brandon, FL

Vicky Jones, Lakeland, FL

Mary Jones, Fort Meade, FL

Sharon Mathis, Lakeland, FL

Juanita Outlaw Warner, Lakeland, FL

Marian Richardson, Plant City, FL

Patricia Thomas, Bartow, FL

Gloria Washington, Bartow, Fl