Kinky, curly, coily and voluminous Black Hair comes in all shapes and sizes. Visual artist Alisha Brooks and her friend and photographer Elizabeth Austin-Davis teamed up to create an experience all about celebrating the tresses of Black Women far and wide with the Black Hair Experience.
The 20,000-square-foot exhibit takes visitors on a nostalgic journey of Black hair joy, from visiting the beauty supply store to sitting in the salon waiting for that hot press. Viewers are also encouraged to interact with the show’s instagrammable installations. According to the founders, the Black Hair Experience is all about connecting women with “moments from their childhood, the vibrancy of hair in present day,” and “to create memories for them to cherish in the future.”
Ahhh! Yes, we can just smell that hot comb and hair grease through the photo!
While the exhibit strives to create a safe place for community and dialogue about the beauty of Black hair, Brooks told NPR she also wanted to make a political statement about society’s damaging views on the topic. In one part of the exhibit the words “My hair is not unprofessional” are displayed in bold letters above an office desk. The subtle but powerful message alludes to the discrimination and microaggressions that Black women often face in the workplace because of their hair.
“It’s important that we continue to have the conversation because it needs to be normalized,” Brooks explained. “Once we can normalize it, then we can stop having all of the issues and debates around our hair. We should be able to wear it freely.”
Last year Dove and the CROWN Coalition helped to pass The Crown Act with help from Senator Holly J. Mitchell from California. The groundbreaking piece of legislation fights to protect women of color from race-based discrimination over protective hairstyles and hair textures in both the workplace and public schools. In addition to California, the bill was officially signed into law in 7 other states including CO, MD, NY, NJ, VA, WA, CT but the fight for nationwide inclusion of the bill still continues.
Looking to check out the exhibit? Looks like it’s only available in ATL and the DMV area at the moment but The Black Hair Experience might be coming to a city near you soon. Check out the website here for ticket and location details.