Printer Friendly

You Will.

Introduction

The works featured here are part of the series You Will, which began as a celebration of hair braiding, namely pineapple production, and prayer. This series aims to explore these subjects beginning with the pineapple's geometry, from its spiral symmetry to the interlocking units that characterize its skin and continue to the heart of the fruit. These configurations also appear in traditions of hair braiding. In response to this connection, like a hair braider, I allow the pineapple to direct my works on paper without restricting the resulting forms. In both forms of expression, there are no rulers, technological devices, still-life guides, or other shortcuts that predetermine any aspect of the final rendering. Without such limitations, my hands aspire to the unadulterated precision that appears in nature. So doing, I consider my children and the possibility of using my practice to leave a legacy that might inspire. The titles are constructed based on contemporary prayers in Nigeria that also stand as decrees. They incorporate Pidgin English spoken in Lagos, Jamaican patois, and depart from histories of meanings assigned to hairstyles. The series is in dialogue with the work of photographers J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere and Karl Blossfeldt and histories of botanical illustration.

Thoughts on Historical Precedents

To begin, this is not intended to be a tight academic text, filled with robust footnotes and followed by an insightful bibliography. I am a visual artist and my hope is to merely share some of the influences and historical markers I have stumbled upon while building this body of work.

In my experience, archives of hairstyling have not been the best kept. They are often preserved in memories recalled as oral histories and in photographs of anonymous people. Therefore, I have had to rely upon my own observations and conversations with others and hair braiders especially, to learn about current trends, forgotten hairstyles and their links to historical events as reflections of human experience.

Most of the hairstyles featured, or that I have referenced, to be more precise, may be closely associated with South-West Nigeria, where I currently live and work. For example, 'Your pot will always be half-full and if it turns over, it will be no more to clean up than you can bear' departs from a style called koroba, a word which means turned over a pot of stew in Yoruba, one of the three most popular indigenous languages spoken in Nigeria (see Image 7). Today, based on my observations, this hairstyle is very popular among toddlers of all socio-economic strata and the occasional adult, usually of the working class, though not always.

Another work departs from payinapu, a pigeon English word meaning pineapple (see Image 6) Other styles, such as the beehive, nod to Western histories of hair styling and undoubtedly, cultural exchange that likely happened during the Civil Rights era of the United States of America. This period, from the late 1940s and late 1960s, overlaps with 1959 when television was broadcast in Nigeria for the first time. Shortly after this period, in 1977, a pan-African cultural showcase called Festac77, took place in Festac (Lagos). I imagine an influx of hairstyles would have happened during this time when persons across the Diaspora descended upon Lagos. Afro hairstyles remained especially popular in Lagos through the 70s (see Image 13).

To be sure, cultural exchange has continued to influence hair styling, and I imagine this has exposed persons living in Nigeria to hairstyles elsewhere, and vice versa. I am curious to know more about the contemporary influence of Nigerian hairstyles on an international public, and across generations. Today, many major cities have hair-braiding salons, often run by West African women who have emigrated from the continent. To speak of where the hairstyles that they create originate, is a challenge. At best, I might recall where and when I first observed a particular style. I have always thought that it is impossible to identify origins. It is especially so in South-West Nigeria, and moreover Lagos, where many cultures intersect.

The diversity and evolution of style is impossible to ignore. While some of the styles that inform my work have persisted for generations, in recent years the palettes of the referenced hairstyles have shifted from natural black and brown attachments to purple, royal blue, gray, white, and a host of other bright colours. The interest in using attachments that blend with one's natural hair colour seems to have waned significantly in the last five years. In many instances today, hair attachments are an accessory that may be likened to a handbag or pair of shoes. This seems to be more true with women between the ages of 17 and 40. Older women continue to have didi, braids turned inward, done with their own hair or modest styles with little attachment, which is often covered with head-ties. Many young girls wear similar styles in terms of simplicity and with little attachment. Though, often times their hair is accented with brightly coloured beads.

Hair, and hair styling, often complicate the distinctions between socio-economic classes that one might gauge from other forms of bodily adornment, such as jewelry. I have also witnessed that which I might term the inversion of style, where someone from the upper-class shuns trends of wearing weaves and wigs and instead opts for a threaded or natural style without attachments. Mrs. Otedola comes to mind, as does the work of Njideka Akunyili Crosby. This trend suggests that traditions of hair braiding and styling that connect to local histories has regained popularity in the last three years, with women wearing braided styles without attachments or attachments that are almost identical to tightly coiled hair textures that are prevalent among many people of African descent.

For me, the histories and various factors that impact and are reflected in hairstyling are significant indicators of the malleability of cultures and of an alternative means of navigating human experience. More interesting still is the potential for rethinking design through the forms expressed in hairstyles. I imagine using these, through my visual art practice, to impact the future of outdoor spaces with beginnings that reference hairstyles and celebrate those who showcase and often create these styles. Connecting the gestures that appear in hairstyles, to those in nature, the series 'You Will' aims to blur the boundaries between human gesture and the lines observed in nature. Perhaps, it is in this space that we might find

structures to shift the ways in which we experience our environments and interpret one another.

1. Title: Your life will be purposed (whole)

Date: 2016

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 18 x 24 in. (46 x 60 cm.)

2. Title: You will uncover detail in simplicity (Quarter minus d heart)

Date: 2016

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 18 x 24 in. (46 x 60 cm.)

3. Title: You will age in grace (comot d up)

Date: 2016

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 18 x 24 in. (46 x 60 cm.)

4. Title: You will intermix (slice the flesh)

Date: 2016

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 18 x 24 in. (46 x 60 cm.)

5. Title: Your eyes will pass those of the pineapple (boil d skin for zobo/sorrel)

Date: 2016

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 18 x 24 in. (46 x 60 cm.)

6. Title: You will see that a little can be enough

Date: 2017

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 13. 4 x 19.7 in. (34 x 50 cm)

7. Title: Your pot will always be half full and if it turns over, it will be no more to clean up than you can bear

Date: 2017

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 13. 4 x 19.7 in. (34 x 50 cm)

8. Title: You will wind past vacuous dreams and through thorned gaits

Date: 2017

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 13. 4 x 19.7 in. (34 x 50 cm)

9. Title: You will find that order can be dynamic

Date: 2017

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 13. 4 x 19.7 in. (34 x 50 cm)

10. Title: You will have offshoots of pleasant surprises

Date: 2017

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 9.25 x 10 in (25 x 25.4 cm)

11. Title: Your bunches will be varied, but most of them sweet

Date: 2017

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 9.25 x 10 in (25 x 25.4 cm)

12. Title: You will set trends that distinguish the real

Date: 2018

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 9.25 x 10 in (25 x 25.4 cm)

13. Title: You will find wealth in clusters as rich as those of the shea tree

Date: 2018

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 9.25 x 10 in (25 x 25.4 cm)

14. Title: Your great grandchildren will see bees on flowers

Date: 2018

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 9.25 x 10 in (25 x 25.4 cm)

15. Title: You will find structure in the lattices of youth

Date: 2018

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 9.25 x 10 in (25 x 25.4 cm)

16. Title: You will be the nucleus of good things

Date: 2018

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 7 x 5 in. (17.78 x 12.7 cm)

17. Title: You will create your own Dubai

Date: 2018

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 7 x 5 in. (17.78 x 12.7 cm)

18. Title: You will find a way around emptiness

Date: 2018

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 7 x 5 in. (17.78 x 12.7 cm)

19. Title: You will see that sometimes it just takes one

Date: 2018

Medium: pencil on paper

Dimensions: 7 x 5 in. (17.78 x 12.7 cm)

About Temitayo Ogunbiyi

With an interest in documenting and creating contemporary channels of communication, Ogunbiyi is a visual artist who creates mixed-media artworks. Her approach is often site-specific, and explores botany, human adornment, and pattern--as textile, human habit, and repeated gesture. References imbedded therein are informed by history, current events, and her interactions with particular places. She uses drawing and sculptureto fragment and reconfigure this source material, which often includes personal anecdotes.

Her projects have been showcased at The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, The Centre for Contemporary Art Lagos, The Museum for Contemporary African Diasporan Art, and the Fries Museum in Berlin. Born and raised in the United States, to a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father, Ogunbiyi now lives predominantly in Lagos, Nigeria with her husband and children. In 2018, she was awarded a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship and her work is featured in Strange Attractors, an artist book produced as part of the 10th Berlin Biennial. Ogunbiyi received a Bachelor's from Princeton University and her MA from Columbia University. Currently, she is building her playgrounds, which interprets Yoruba hairstyles as outdoor, interactive places of play.

Note on contributors

Dr Sharon Adetutu OMOTOSO is currently with the Gender Studies Program at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria where she coordinates the Women's Research and Documentation Centre (WORDOC). She is a a Chartered Mediator & Conciliator, Senior Research Fellow Institut Francais de Recherche en Afrique (IFRA) and Research Fellow (Gender/Women Issues) of the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP). Her areas of research interest include Applied Ethics, Media & Gender studies, Political Communications, Philosophy of Education, Socio-Political Philosophy, and African Philosophy where she has published significantly and co-edited books including Gender Based Violence in Nigeria and Beyond and the Springer-published book titled Political Communication in Africa. She has won travel grants across continents.

Dr. Chic SMITH is a cultural critic and rhetorician who examines life through the lens of communication. Her research interests are intercultural communication, popular culture, African American English Vernacular, & women studies. Numerous outlets have published her articles on various aspects of American culture. She has served on several Mayoral Commissions in Washington, DC; and was the co-founder and Vice President of Urban Think Tank Institute; the nation's first think tank developed by and for members of the hip hop community. She is a native of Brooklyn, NY and teaches a course titled, "Brooklyn's in the House," that examines the rhetoric of Jay-Z & the Notorious B.I.G. She is currently an Assistant Dean, College of Arts & Sciences & Assistant Professor English Dept., at University of Virginia. She holds a BA from Albertus Magnus College, MA from Georgetown University, & Ph.D. from Howard University.

Dr Ann LAWLESS is an experienced researcher and educator. She is an associate editor of journals and active in professional associations and community activism. She is a sociologist with special interests in the sociology of higher education and the sociology of health, and the teaching of cultural competencies in the professions. In 2008 Ann was admitted to the South Australian Women's Honor Roll 2008. She is also an active aunty, great-aunty and great-great aunty, and a cousin, niece and sister in a huge lawless clan of Irish descent.

Dr. Maria DELONGORIA is currently the Chair of the Department of Social & Behavioral Science and the Interim Executive Director of the Caribbean Research Center and Associate Professor of History at Medgar Evers College - CUNY. Over the last fifteen+ years, Dr. DeLongoria has developed curriculum, and taught a range of courses including United States, Caribbean, and African American History; comparative slavery; Women in the African Diaspora; Race Gender & Class; and Black Studies. Her research agenda includes the lynching of Black women; racial, ethnic, and cultural identity; popular culture; and Black women's teaching and leadership pedagogies. A respected administrator, Dr. DeLongoria has held positions as Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, Executive Dean/Campus CEO, Dean, and Coordinator at several institutions that serve first generation students and students with non-traditional paths to college. She has also received several awards in recognition of her commitment to education and community.

Shaunasea BROWN is a PhD candidate in the Humanities program at York University who self-identifies as a Jamaican-Canadian woman of African descent. Her research utilizes an aesthetical approach to shed light on anti-Black racist beliefs and practices that persist within Canadian society. She frames her work on Black women's hair as battleground to advocate for the recognition of the beauty in diversity. By placing Black women at the center of her research, her work extends critiques of Canadian multiculturalism by using expressions of Black women's subjectivity to redefine the limits of "Canadianness." Through capturing the nuanced experiences of be(long)ing, her research emphasizes the importance of body positivity, self-love, agency and anti-racist education in articulating Black/African diasporic experiences.

Temitayo OGUNBIYI's projects have been showcased at The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, The Centre for Contemporary Art Lagos, The Museum for Contemporary African Diasporan Art, and the Fries Museum in Berlin. Born and raised in the United States, to a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father, Ogunbiyi now lives predominantly in Lagos, Nigeria with her husband and children. In 2018, she was awarded a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship and her work is featured in Strange Attractors, an artist book produced as part of the 10th Berlin Biennial. Ogunbiyi received a bachelor's from Princeton University and her MA from Columbia University. Currently, she is building her playgrounds, which interprets Yoruba hairstyles as outdoor, interactive places of play.

Daniel Chidozie NNADI is a master student in the Gender Studies programme, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and Language Arts from University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State Nigeria. Daniel is a Researcher, a Journalist and radio script writer for drama presentations. He is also a professional male hairdresser with sizeable number of female clients who also patronizes his front hair (edges) hair growth products. He is also project manager (Media) volunteer with the Women's Research and Documentation Center (WORDOC) of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. An organization that has lived for over 31 years. Rebecca Omowunmi AJISOGUN holds a Master's Degree in Cultural and Media Studies from the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan.

Dr. De-Valera BOTCHWAY is an Associate Professor of History (Africa and the African Diaspora) at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. He is interested in Black Religious and Cultural Nationalism(s), West Africa, Africans in Dispersion, African Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Sports (Boxing) in Ghana, Children in Popular Culture, World Civilisations, and Regionalism and Integration in Africa. He belongs to the Historical Society of Ghana. He has authored books and several scholarly articles. These include "Fela 'The Black President' as Grist to the Mill of the Black Power Movement in Africa" in Black Diaspora Review (2014), "Was it a Nine Days Wonder?: A Note on the Proselytisation Efforts of the Nation of Islam in Ghana, c. 1980s-2010" (co-authored) in New Perspectives on the Nation of Islam (Routledge, 2017), and Africa and the First World War: Remembrance, Memories and Representations after 100 Years (co-edited anthology published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018).

by Temitayo Ogunbiyi

temitayo.ogunbiyi@gmail .com
COPYRIGHT 2018 Journal of Pan African Studies
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2018 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:hair braiding, pineapple production and prayer as subjects in pencil drawing; Human Hair: Intrigues and Complications
Author:Ogunbiyi, Temitayo
Publication:Journal of Pan African Studies
Geographic Code:6NIGR
Date:Dec 15, 2018
Words:2820
Previous Article:Growing Lawless Hair in White Australia.
Next Article:Zimbabwe: The Royal Residence.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters