Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nappylocs And The Three Combs: The Pan African Installation

"Nappylocs and the Three Combs: A Pan African Installation" was finished installing on Wednesday and closes tomorrow.
I usually don't showcase artwork often, but now I must. It's not called AfroVeganChick for nothing right? Poetry was performed yesterday to a modest audience. We enjoyed delicious vegan snacks like addictive Candy Cane Cream Chocolate Sandwich Cookies by 365 Brands-- Whole Foods' holiday sentiment. Everyone loved them. In fact, not much was left after the performance.
Here at PAFA, MFA/Post Baccalaureate students have a gracious opportunity to rent out studios to create an installation. I was rather excited to create a world inspired by Goldilocks and the Three Bears. That particular fairy tale takes place primarily indoors. My narrative of Nappylocs and the Three Combs is meant to be taken in outdoor context. However, there are varied common factors despite past and contemporary meeting together in almost conceptual manner. There's intrusion: stranger poking through someone's house using and "stealing" things. Combs each invade kinky hair roots and take away strands-- some of which thieved more than others. Each discovery was either painful or intolerable before being "just right." Despite three different "Made In China" factory combs only one of them is perfect.
Strands of red, green, and black ribbon are tied around hung combs, drawings, and kraft paper, threads of Pan African DNA. I have had some ask symbolism behind these specific colors, foolishly believing that everyone knew what they stood for. Red being blood of ancestral flow, green being land of African wealth and pride, and black standing for a race refusing to remain oppressed.

Braided Too Tight. Litho crayon on charcoal paper. Hairdresser was one of the poems I read. Based on an actual event.  In order to create parts, this hairdresser used a rat tail comb (one of the thinnest, most painful instruments known to kinky hair kind). And it hurt. It always always hurts.
Three Combs to The Afro. Litho crayon on charcoal paper.
Narrow Minded Comb. Litho Crayon on charcoal paper.
Wide Tooth Tears. Litho crayon on charcoal paper.
Close up.
Just Right. Litho crayon on charcoal paper.
The feedback has been phenomenal, inspiring. I've had both positive critiques and pointers to fix weaknesses. I would love to create another one either next semester or in the fall. It's quite invigorating to come up with an idea and use a space to generate manifestation.

Picks and combs dangling from Pan African ribbons.
Artificial black flowers wreathed by combs and ribbons.
High flying pick solo .
Floor is covered in red, black, and green tablecloths over scented white trash bags.
Outside door of installation was Red, Black, and Green What Does Pan-African Mean. A description of the symbolic colors and love leaves "growing" from flower petals.
Left side of floral arrangement.
These last seven photos were taken by dear sweet Tovah, fantastic artist, former Post Bac classmate, and most thoughtful friend. She has been awesome and one true supporter.

A little pause from poetry reading.
Staying valiant and strong despite horrors of using that tiny comb.
Black combs and black flowers hang from strategically hung afro picks.
Making sure the world is just right.
Some weird braid attempt. I'm still not quite good, but one day I shall overcome. I've been using mixture of Jamaican Black Castor, Argan, and Coconut Oils. I created a hair tie using red, black, and green ribbons.
The afro pick lady.
Standing in the world of my creation.


  1. Wow! I am so proud of you! Congratulations on manifesting your artistic vision! I really like "Wide Tooth Tears." It reminds me of being little and thinking my hair was so cool because whenever I pulled it/stretched it out it would bounce right back closer to my scalp. I was tender-headed though so I was constantly running from the combs lol!

    1. Thanks so much dear friend! It was imperative to create this fictional world that illustrates a reality we're all still coping with. The combs being offered still hurt as well as perception from not just other cultures but our own flesh and blood minority. Goldilocks seemed to be more than appropriate appropriation to speak the unspeakable volumes.
      I did too run away from combs, often wincing at the thought of those narrow teeth getting through my thick head of kinky roots. Tough, tough childhood.