Over the course of his career, the late Nigerian photographer JD Okhai Ojeikere photographed over 1 000 different Nigerian hairstyles. He explored the culture of African hair braiding, which dates back thousands of years and is often an extensive process that begins in childhood.
Influenced by social and cultural patterns and historical events, methods and styles of braiding have constantly changed, from being purely decorative to conveying deeper, more symbolic understandings. Different styles can reveal social status, age and tribal or family traditions.
Hailing from California, photographer Medina Dugger moved to Lagos in Nigeria to help gain recognition for the African art scene. After discovering Ojeikere’s work, she decided to pay homage to his work with her own contemporary approach. While Ojeikere’s work was documentary in style, Dugger injects colour and vibrancy into the work in her ongoing photo series Chroma: An Ode to JD Okhai Ojeikere, with the aim of celebrating the art of current Nigerian hair culture.
She adds a surreal element to the images with the help of French multidisciplinary artist Francois Beaurain. Chromatin is the animated variation of Dugger’s Chroma photo project. Through it she explores the relationship between design and colours in contemporary braiding methods, underlying the importance of geometric and fractal patterns in African culture.