This piece is featured in the current issue of My.Kali, a conceptual webzine for/from the Middle East and North Africa that addresses social issues and strives to defy mainstream gender binaries in the Arab world.
I created this collage for an article by A.W. Rahman that examines a poem by Nizar Qabbani, one of the most revered contemporary poets in the region. View the article here.
Many thanks to all who came to Golden Thread Productions's Annual International Women's Day event. I was extremely humbled to be a part of such a wonderful program alongside Farnoosh Moshiri, Naima Grace Shalhoub, Sara Maamouri, and Atosa Melody. Many thanks to Torange Yeghiazarianand Evren Odcikin for putting together such an inspiring event.
I'm excited to share that I'll be speaking about my work at this event which features four other amazing and talented women.
Opening Reception | Office Hours
Friends: I'll have work in this group show at The Main Museum.
Wednesday, November 29
114 W. 4th St., Los Angeles, CA 90013
Join us for the opening of Office Hours + In Focus: Rachel DuVall. Enjoy a hosted bar featuring Fort Point Beer Company and DJ sets by Vinyl Frontier Club, a LA-based DJ collective spinning oldies, cumbia, funk, disco, and more.
Holiday Wishlist Donations for Downtown Women’s Center at Beta Main
From now through the end of the year, Beta Main will be accepting donations for the Downtown Women’s Center holiday wishlist. Please bring donations with you to any of our upcoming programs, including the one listed above. For information about most needed items please visit: downtownwomenscenter.org/our-wishlist
Downtown Women’s Center
Founded in 1978, the Downtown Women’s Center is the only organization in Los Angeles exclusively dedicated to addressing the needs of women overcoming poverty and homelessness in Skid Row.
One Woman Shows is a play on words against the singularity of the solo exhibition to a model of multiplicity as a group of women witness and perform acts of self-naming. The project, initiated by Cindy Rehm is inspired by Suzanne Lacy’s 1975 collaborative performance, One Woman Shows. The network of performers was built through a chainmail structure to produce an interconnected community of participants who will engage in an experience that is both intimate and communal.
Project Participants: Ashwini Ambre, Kate Alexandrite, Karen Atkinson, Alexis Alicette Bolter, Eugenia Barbuc,Karolina Beveridge, Carolita Blythe, Aubry Bratcher, Courtney Byrd, Rook Campbell, Precious Child, Toro Castaño, Courtney Cox, Yami Curiel, Dorit Cypis, Johanna Cypis, Crystal Diaz, Yasmine Diaz, Jessica Dillon, Melody Ehsani, Coco Fausone-Wilson, Megan Flanders, Anikai Gesh, Christine Dianne Guiyangco, Frances Hale, Hazel Handan, Siobhan Hebron, GabrielaHernandez, Andrea Hidalgo, Juanesta Holmes, Patricia Huerta, Denise Johnson, Elizabeth Leister, Elizabeth Medina, Gabby Melendez, Mabel Moore, Yanina Orellana, Mary Anna Pomonis, Cindy Rehm, Sandee Rodriguez, Marina Santana, Carol Seleme, Delbar Shabhbaz, Julie Shafer, Rose Simons, Weng-San Sit, Amelia Steely, Kelly Wall, Dajin Yoon, Maggie Zheng
Follow One Woman Shows @onewomanshows
Space is limited, to attend, please RSVP to email@example.com
Save the date for my upcoming show at Mission Workshop in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. Details below.
Many thanks to all who came to the opening party on Saturday night. I forgot to get a photo of the reception facing the actual install, so here's a quick mash-up /LAyer Cake of the show. For those of you who couldn't make it, it will be up at the Los Angeles County Store until November 15.
Nina. 24. I grew up in Val Verde; a small town with a large Mexican community, right on the edge of Santa Clarita Valley.
I've had a lot of moments where I have felt judgement on my hair, which mostly happened when I was a kid or a teenager. Most of the comments, which I only recognized as harmful to my self image in retrospect, were from other black people, or African Americans. I heard ridicule from older women, in particular, to tame my hair, to gel back my frizzy curls, or to fix my nappy hair. I remember once a white boy in my class telling me that he liked my bun of curls, but that I need to put gel to smooth out my edges and waves, even though I hated gel. For most of my school years, I have been surrounded by white people or other minorities, who mainly approached my hair with fascination and curiosity. The most ridicule I faced about my natural hair was from myself, though. I wanted to blend in, and I tortured myself to look more like the White and Mexican girls in my class, with straight flowing hair. The other few Black girls in my class had straight hair, too, so I just always felt so different. My own self image was the biggest burden on my own confidence, which took a long time to defeat.
Now, I get complemented on my hair daily. White, Mexican, Asian, Black, men and women tell me they love my hair. But I feel the most when young black girls say they like my hair. I want to be the option for them that I didn't have when I was a little girl.
I didn't always wear my hair naturally. As a kid, when it was natural, I would tie it back. My mother and father would spend time putting individual braids in when they had spare time, as well. And I sometimes got my hair braided with extensions at other women's houses that my mother or father paid for. My mother, who was Colombian and raised in New York, loved to get her thin, straight hair permed and curled. She loved my curls, and I could never understand why.
I had no idea I could chemically straighten my hair until I was 11 or 12. I don't remember how I found out, but when I did, I begged my mother to take me. She refused for a long time, until finally she gave in and I got my hair relaxed during my freshman year in high school. But I was a swimmer, so maintaining that kind of hairstyle became difficult. My hair eventually became damaged and fried from straighteners. It wasn't until I was 19 that I realized I was not completely loving myself, which was something that I had pushed for in other parts of my life. Suppressing my natural hair had become so normal to me that I had forgotten what I looked like, and who I really was. My hair was the last thing I had to overcome to free myself from caring what others thought of me. I know that I was afraid to wear my hair out naturally, particularly in a fro, because I had never seen any other women in my life do it. I don't think I saw that as an option, or at least no one told me that it was. I just somehow learned that I was supposed to pull it back, and be in pain, and "do something" with it. I needed a role model in my life to show me that you wouldn't explode if you went outside the house with your hair out. My mom tried; She and my father surrounded me with books that celebrated black culture, but because she did not look like me, it was impossible for me to understand.
I struggle often with the weight of importance that we put on these tiny strands that grow out of our head--the importance of beauty that we place on ourselves every day to be acceptable for either ourselves or society. It all feels, at least for me, that it starts with hair and that the definition of ones self lies with what we do with our hair. And that feels so heavy sometimes.
No matter how much I love my hair, and no matter how much I love the journey I have taken with it, and freedom I have gained from finally embracing it, at the end of the day the most important thing to me is that I can cut it all off, and still feel like I am me. My heart and my mind are the same. I am more than my hair.
Also, a lot of black women tell me that they wish they could go natural, but their curls are not like mine, so there is no way they would look good. But the funny thing is, is that I used to say that to other women with larger curls when my hair was relaxed.
Let your hair grow, and fall in love with your own curls. They will not be like anyone else's. And isn't that absolutely amazing?
Excited to share, yesterday a post of mine was one of the 9 featured by Instagram as part of their Weekend Hashtag Project. Over 35K images were submitted. With close to 200 comments on the post, the response has been overwhelming. The theme for this WHP was texture and my photo below (center) is of local artist and activist Adrienne Wade. It's part of a new series about hair that I'm working on. Specifically, I'm looking into the issue of naturally curly or kinky hair and why so many of us have been told at some point that our hair's natural state is inappropriate, or unprofessional, or unattractive, etc.
I've been collecting photos of women with natural 'textured' hair for a project in the works. This woman (artist and activist @habitual_human ) was gracious enough to let me take this photo when I ambushed her at an art exhibit. The more I look into the issue of 'natural vs unnatural' hair, the more I've learned how universal it is. It can have strong links to identity, social status, and perceived beauty standards. The history of straightening 'kinky' hair and the personal stories I've come across have been fascinating, heartbreaking, and often infuriating. I've read accounts from black women, Latinas, and women of mixed backgrounds. Still, I wasn't quite prepared for my own mother's reaction to seeing me for the first time in 19 years. We had a scheduled call via Skype and I had just biked home wearing a helmet so my hair was up in a bun. "Let me see your hair" she said, so I took out the hair tie that was wrestling back the giant curly beast. "You like it like that?" Clearly, after a 19 year absence there are a lot of things to talk about other than the state of my hair. But I'd be lying if I said I was completely shocked. All of the women with curly hair in my Middle Eastern family straighten their hair, even I did when I was in highschool and emulated everything my older sisters did. Straight hair is seen as 'good hair'. It wasn't until years later that I realized my naturally curly hair was nothing I needed to hide or change. To those of you out there who know what I'm talking about and have stories of your own to share, I'd love to hear from you, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. New edit on August 19 : use #TextureYD to share pics and stories, I'll assume you consent to my using any pics or stories tagged with #TextureYD . Thanks and I hope to hear from you. #WHPtexture #naturalhair