Tag Archives: natural hair

Extraordinary Women: Sonya Clark

Featured Photo: Sonya Clark (American, Born 1967), The Hair Craft Project: Hairstylists with Sonya, 2013, Eleven inkjet photographs, Eleven color photographs: Each 28”x 28”,The Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection, Frederick Brown Fund, Samuel Putnam Avery Fund, and Helen and Alice Colburn Fund Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

To say that the work of African American multi-media artist Sonya Clark is dynamic and powerful would be an understatement. Throughout her career, Clark’s work has often featured hair and combs in the place of more traditional fibers and art-making materials. Her exhibition, Follicular: The Hair Stories of Sonya Clark, is currently on display at the Taubman Museum of Art and will remain there until May 14, 2017. It addresses the roles of hair in African American society and features site specific installations. Last month, it included a performance entitled, “Translations.” This performance featured stylist Kamala Bhagat, who reinterpreted an African hairstyle on Clark’s hair as she read poetry by Rita Dove and Nikki Giovanni. Both the performance and the exhibition explore hair as an indicator of social status, a symbol of age and authority, a statement of contemporary style, an object of beauty, and adornment.

As we all know, hair is a medium with which we express our identity. It is a political statement as much as it is a personal one—the idea that we can be ourselves while being professional, active members of a society that tells us what is in fashion or appropriate in magazines or on television.

Sonya Clark (American, Born 1967), The Hair Craft Project: Hairstyles on Canvas, 2013, Silk threads, beads, shells, and yarn on eleven canvases, Nine at 29” x 29”, Two at 33” x 33”, The Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection, Frederick Brown Fund, Samuel Putnam Avery Fund, and Helen and Alice Colburn Fund Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Sonya Clark (American, Born 1967), The Hair Craft Project: Hairstyles on Canvas, 2013, Silk threads, beads, shells, and yarn on eleven canvases, Nine at 29” x 29”, Two at 33” x 33”, The Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection, Frederick Brown Fund, Samuel Putnam Avery Fund, and Helen and Alice Colburn Fund Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Unfortunately, those differences are often made into something negative. A trait as innocuous as hair can be made into the thing by which we set ourselves apart—and even above—other people. Understanding the importance of a hair style to everyone’s freedom of self-expression is a key component to removing ourselves from the dehumanization that plagues media and entertainment. It is the same dehumanization, Clark reminds us, that has made it easier to subjugate groups of people throughout history.

“Angela Davis was wearing a huge Afro during the black power movement,” says Clark. “It became a symbol of embracing identity. The idea of celebrating the kink, the curl, and the twist is something that is celebrating a rich history and legacy.”

In addition to hair, Clark integrates plastic pocket combs into her work. She describes them as objects that are invested with a lot of cultural identity.

“The unbreakable comb is designed that way to win the battle against knotted hair. It is pocket-sized to be carried with you all the time,” explains Clark. “A tool like a comb has to do with certain groups of people that grow hair in a certain way. They tell us something about our economic structure. Being groomed means something.”

Follicular: The Hair Stories of Sonya Clark will be on display until May 14, 2017. It is an exhibition rich with history that you do not want to miss! For more of Sonya’s work, visit www.sonyaclark.com.

Tips for Natural Hair Care This Winter

Harsh winter weather can be detrimental to all different types of hair, but the cold, dry air is especially brutal to Black hair and other types of textured hair. Natural hair, and newly transitioned natural hair, risk undergoing extreme breakage and damage when exposed to the winter elements. Need some help on how to upkeep the quality of your natural hair? Avoid damage this winter with these must have items and habits to introduce to your hair.

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  • An Efficient Protective Hairstyle

Protective styling, such as twists, braids, or locs, helps to retain length by stretching out your hair and encouraging growth. With minimal manipulation, you natural hair will be allowed to grow freely, eliminating the constant threat of tangling and breakage. Because your hair will already be in a style, all you have to worry about is maintenance–which allows more time to focus on moisturizing your scalp and roots! But be sure to only keep protective styles in for their maximum time limits–let your hair breathe! Keep box braids in for no longer than three months at the max, for example!

  • A Satin-Lined Beanie

Want to cover up your hair and keep your ears warm in style this winter? Invest in a satin-lined hat or beanie to keep your ends protected and to retain moisture on the go! You can find many of these online on Etsy or you could make one yourself with this easy online tutorial video!

  • Incorporate Heavy Products

Add heavier sealants and oils into your normal routine like shea butter to guarantee maximum moisture retention in the cold weather. You can find heavy shea butter at your local health food store.

  • Wash Your Hair Less

Unlike less textured hair, natural hair requires less frequent washing as it removes essential moisture from already dry hair. At least limit hair washing to every ten days or two weeks to limit drying out your hair even more.  Use fewer products to encourage healthy growth.

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  • Condition, Condition, Condition!

Ditch the shampoo and co-wash regularly! Carol’s Daughter has a lot of products in stock to cleanse and condition your hair all at once! If you don’t already do so, incorporate frequent deep conditioning treatments to your lifestyle. You can buy products to deep condition with in your local beauty store or stick to hot oil treatments with Extra Virgin Coconut or Olive Oil (and any other essential oils if you’d like!) Apply warmed oil to your hair and scalp and leave on for about an hour. Then, simply rinse and co-wash!