Art to the Rescue of the Head!
Hampton Hair Art Project series
Painter, book illustrator, sculptor Daniel Minter believes that it’s the artistic styling of the hair and the spiritual presentation of the head that accentuates black women’s beauty, not necessarily the length or altered texture.
A woman’s journey to realizing her own beauty is similar to the creative process of artists. There's the subjective phase of trial and error experimentation, the objective phase of standing back to evaluate the work in progress, and the combined outward and inward processes of readjustment and adaptation. It's a process of discovery that also can stem from deeper spiritual dimensions.
To the young woman who believes that the longer the hair, the better and more beautiful she will be, Minter replies with his Yemanja oil painting of a woman who has hair cut so short you can see the scalp - a striking bald look that he often saw during his work and travel in Bahia, Brazil. "In Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, in preparation for initiation into the African Brazilian religion Condomble, initiates have their heads shaved, and white patterns are painted on the head to represent a specific orisha,” explains Minter. "So lots of times in Bahia, following their period of reclusion during initiation, you see beautiful, bald women walking the streets."
In contemporary visual art, the overriding aesthetic is not one of conventional beauty but an expression of bold uniqueness. So while Minter’s work often incorporates traditional themes and realistic imagery, many of his female figures are caricatures in the most positive sense of term. The physical attributes that African Americans have been indoctrinated to view as ugly, he accentuates as gorgeous.
Daniel Minter says that his is an “art of reclamation.” His images “call back the beauty of our darkest skins, the plush of our lips, and the fullness of our sight.”
If a woman feels that she is diminished because of the texture of her hair or her African features, she may add hair to achieve “beauty.” An artist’s advice to such women is: banish the banality of long weaves and extensions and confidently project your own uniqueness, artistry and/or spirituality.
Daniel Minter urges women to see the beauty that, to his artist eye, is already there.
“As I use the image of our bodies in my art to express an idea, the hair that I chose to render in my art is a very significant aspect of the idea,” he explains. “Just as the hair that a person chooses to display upon their head is an expression of ideas and struggles fought and held within.”
In other words, hair styles that contradict a women’s physical make up symbolize her feelings of inadequacy.
Art to the rescue!