Hey Creative Friends,
I recently completed a new piece of work that I’ll like to share with you. It’s called Chance Meeting. Chance Meeting is the first in a series titled “Black Crowns”. Let me tell you a little bit about the background of “Black Crowns”
“Black Crowns” is a series of works which explores the African-American hair story
I was born and raised in Africa (Ghana) and then later, I migrated to America. In Ghana, since almost everyone is black, your skin color and hair type aren’t noticeable identifiers.
It was here in America that I came to realize that, just like my skin color, my hair (my black crown), is a symbol of my identity. The way I wear it is not simply a set of fashion or style choices, I make.
So, I began to wonder about the black crown stories of my ancestors who were brought here to America several generations ago.
Which of the hair traditions did they bring with them from Africa? Which of these hair traditions still remain among their descendants here in the USA, in Africa, and the diaspora.
How did they groom their hair in a country that didn’t have the potions and hair implements they were used to? How did decisions about their hair affect their everyday lives? These are the questions this series of works will be exploring.
I begin this series with my personal black crown story
Over the years, I had started to question why I needed to apply chemicals to my hair in order to straighten it. Chemicals can often damage your hair. So, I toyed with the idea of wearing my natural coily hair instead of a perm. However, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to style it fashionably.
Growing up, I hadn’t really learned to care for and wear my natural hair in a way that was “fashionable”. Don’t get me wrong. I could do the basics, just to tide me over till I got a perm. I knew how to do simple braids and twists. However, taking care of my perm? Oh that, I certainly knew how to do.
The thing is, as a teenager, the image of fashionable hairstyles that I saw all around me and in popular culture was the long straight hair. So, that’s what I wanted. And as soon as I could, I had my hair straightened. And it remained straightened for a very long time.
Then a couple of years ago, I went on a campus tour with my daughter who was interviewing for schools. There, I met an African American woman wearing her natural coils in a bun just like you see in this piece of artwork.
I walked up to her and told her how much I loved the look of her hair and how scared I was that if I tried to wear mine that way, I wouldn’t be able to groom and manage it.
This wonderful woman gave me tips to help me transition to wearing my This wonderful woman gave me tips to help me transition to wearing my natural coils. Ever since that chance meeting, I’ve worn my natural coily hair. I’m still in the process of learning how to easily care for, and fashionably wear my natural hair. It’s a journey.
So, that’s the story behind this piece. If you look closely, you’ll find three different fabric patterns in this portrait. I designed each of these fabric patterns by myself. My goal for my fabric designs was that they could help me tell a cohesive story with this portrait.
I’ve created a YouTube video to show the process in a video format. To watch this process video, click here: “Chance Meeting Video.”
I hope you enjoyed learning the story behind my latest piece of artwork.
Let me know what you think of this new piece.
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Also published on Medium.