The Crown Act Hair Portraits
The African American story in the United States echoes in our hair. Mass media, corporate culture and the legacy of White Supremacy judge our crown as primitive, unprofessional and unkempt. The choice to “go natural” becomes an act of defiant rebellion and loving self care.
This body of work, The Crown Act Hair Portraits, includes five 24”x36” canvas print "hair portraits" of people of African descent who, through their employment or career trajectories, occupy spaces where natural hair is traditionally seen as unprofessional and unwelcome. To create the “hair portraits,” the sitters are photographed from the back with their hair being the focal point. The title of each piece is the sitter’s actual job title or educational standing at the time of creation. Captured from behind, I challenge the viewers to question their internalized biases about beauty, freedom and what it is to exist as an African American under the professional gaze. What does the viewer learn about the sitter from their hair? What can't they learn about the sitter from their hair?