There is a strong history behind a black woman’s hair – themes of social class, functionality, politics and fashion all have an impact on the entity. African hair especially is slowly beginning to lose its heritage as modern techniques begin to filter though and erase a once-appreciated, malleable quality.
Artists have long been interested in this subject – here, their curiosity is showcased through photography. We take a look at three international artists who are challenging and celebrating black hair in the art world:
This Chicago-based hairstylist-turned-artist explored the heritage, rituals and beauty of black femininity in her first solo show, Braids, in 2016. The project proved to be a beautiful curation of meaningful pieces that provoked historical references within hair culture, and serves as an artistic voice for women who have not had the opportunity to share their views on such a contentious matter.
JD ‘Okhai Ojeikere
The late Nigerian photographer JD ‘Okhai Ojeikere was known for his striking black and white portraits of Nigerian women and their intricate hair braiding. One of his biggest running projects, he developed an intrigue into the different methods local women used to braid and twist their hair. Exhibitions of these works reflected the need to recognise and preserve the culture around Nigerian hair.
‘All these hairstyles are ephemeral. I want my photographs to be noteworthy traces of them. I always wanted to record moments of beauty, moments of knowledge.’ – JD ‘Okhai Ojeikere