Rejoicing the ‘Crowning Glory’
Rejoicing the ‘Crowning Glory’- for every Black and Mixed-race woman, there is a story of hair triumph, hair exhaustion that is relatable and shared with an understanding smile.
Countless things have changed over thousands of years of human history. However, the cultural significance assigned to human hair is certainly not one of them. The politics of hair travels across time and local: from Ancient Greece to 21st Century London and every period and culture in-between, hair has been a highly complex site where issues relating to social, sexual and national identities have been displaced.
It is our crowning glory; the wonderful strands of our shared experience sprouting from our heads in such a variety of styles it can confuse the uninformed eye. The hair on your head invariably says something about both you and the time and culture to which you belong. Throughout the ages, hair has been used to signify status and power, or the lack thereof. From relaxed tresses to natural curls, shaved sides to weaves past the shoulder, the profusion of hair styles for women provide a plethora of channels for self-expression.
For many Black and Mixed-race women, however, hair can be a burden and a ‘hairy subject’. The stress and cost of upkeep and the desire to align to exacting standards of Western beauty that favour long, flowing tresses, are just two of the reasons Black and Mixed-race women can come to loathe the hair on their heads. From the birth of the lye perm in the house of Madame CJ Walker to ‘happy to be nappy’, the way in which Black women view their hair is constantly changing.
‘Hair Celebration’ at arc Gallery is an event inspired by Hair Power – Skin Revolution: an anthology of poems and essays edited by Nicole Moore, in which Black and Mixed-race women explore the range of skin and hair experiences: from falling in love with their natural locks, to shaving it all off in frustration and choosing to start again. The symbolism and cultural importance of hair shines through in each woman’s story and to explore the evolution and celebration of Black hair arc will be hosting an evening of readings from the collection and a discussion panel with Nicole Moore and other panellists.
We invite you to join us in examining the changing styles of Black hair over the past (few) decades and how that has reflected the shared and disparate history of the African Diaspora, our self-image and much more.
‘Hair Celebration’ takes place Thursday 10th March 2011 between 6.30pm and 9.30pm at the arc Gallery.