traci turner, traci l turner, art, flyy and kinky

“Red Buns” Oil on panel, 2015. By Traci L. Turner.

This series has been a long time coming in my art life. In the era of #blacklivesmatter, the discussion of being black in America (not necessarily “African American”) is all over mainstream media and social outlets. With more people becoming aware of the struggles of the black male, I’ve chosen to address one of the struggles of the black female – hair.

For decades black women have damaged and burned themselves, figuratively and literally, for trying to force their hair into submission. To those who aren’t as conscious about this issue and the sensitivity of it amongst the black community, this might not seem like a big deal. Please consider yourselves lucky. For those of us who understand the deep psychological roots of the condemnation of a tighter, fluffier hair texture on a woman, we know that it’s a constant battle – no matter how much we may like the hair. It’s a battle against the subtle and not-so-subtle messages about beauty that we receive in society. It’s a battle against a conservative professional world, against other women and even a battle against our own race. The list goes on and on. Yes, over hair.

It goes to show that it’s not “just hair,” it’s our identity. We have grown tired of feeling like we are less beautiful or less acceptable because of it. But within the last 10 – 15 years, we have started to say “No more.” We are reclaiming our “edges” and we are redefining our beauty standards ourselves. We are forcing society into submission instead.

This isn’t about weave-shaming or policing non-naturals, because the beauty of it is that we can all do whatever we want with what’s on our head. I’d just like to give special recognition to those who have chosen to work with what they have. It takes a certain level of creativity and patience. It’s an art. Hairstyles and haircuts that would’ve been deemed ugly or unfeminine are now coveted and ubiquitous. There is no other hair texture in the world that has the same versatility and now we know it. We’re updoing it, dying it, adorning it and stretching it with the best of them.

The Flyy and Kinky series is inspired by my own journey with accepting my hair. It is also inspired by all of the people who have dedicated a part of their lives to celebrating and uplifting black women’s beauty and excellence. I appreciate those efforts because, unfortunately, it’s very necessary that we have them. With this series I intend to join the movement by showcasing vibrant, fun paintings that depict hairstyles and textures seen on women of color in a way that expresses how I see them: confident, smart, beautiful, and spirited – just to name a few things.

At this point, I see this as only the beginning of this series. I would love to keep expanding on this idea and the imagery. For the full gallery, just follow this link.

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