Nakeya Brown

nakeyabrown10 NakeyaBrown_3 NakeyaBrown_2 NakeyaBrown_6 NakeyaBrown_7 ‘The personal is the political’: a phrase I first learnt of whilst at university and one I’ve never forgotten. Coined during the late 60’s, and attributed to second wave feminism, it drew into focus the notion of how women’s personal and private lives – their roles in marriage, childbearing –  impact upon gender equality and opportunities. As a term, it deeply resonated with me as I found a universal truth in its meaning. Gender, race, sexuality, culture, can all be deemed as the ‘personal’, which in turn can affect our biases; how we’re perceived and ultimately how we shape our conscious experiences. Artist Nakeya Brown’s photographic work explores ‘blackness and womanhood with an emphasis on the politics of hair’, and can be understood in both a personal and wider political context. “My photographs examine the multiplicity of African – American hair through presenting it in various states whether braided, weaved, straightened, or natural. I am intrigued by its ability to communicate dual messages about a woman’s relationship to herself and to society at large.” Her latest work uses a pastel colour palette and 70’s / 80’s musical icons along with hair paraphernalia of the time – namely hooded hairdryers and hot curlers – to depict a bygone-era, the evolution in beauty standards and the accompanying rituals. Nakeya approaches her subject matter from a black feminist perspective, looking at the consumption of inherently pernicious ideologies of good hair  – i.e. the looser and less coiled the afro hair the better – all of which are rooted in colonial value systems. While doing so, Nakeya creates visually playful pieces that question common perceptions of ‘black hair’, feminine identity and its connotations both from within and outside of the black community.]]>

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