Brooklyn, NY– Over the weekend, Bed-Stuy’s House of Art Gallery hosted an opening reception for its latest exhibit, AFROS — a collection of photos from photographer Michael July’s coffee table book, AFROS: A Celebration Of Natural Hair. Of course, I made sure my afro was on fleek for the occasion.
The small and intimate gallery space was filled with every type of natural ‘do — twist-outs, locs, braids, and afros of every shape and size. As my friends and I entered the exhibit, we were greeted with the smiles of beautiful brown faces. I felt prideful. In this rare moment, I felt “normal.” I felt “standard.” Everyone in the room looked like me. No one wanted to touch my hair out of “curiosity.” I wasn’t called edgy for rocking my natural hair. Given the fact that I only felt comfortable sporting my natural hair after over a decade of perms and a limited perception of beauty (not to mention general culture and society shaming women of color for their natural features), this moment was everything. It was awesome.
For seven years, July explored the vast territories of natural hair, archiving the unique stories and styles of several individuals into his book. The men and women who grace the 450 pages are from all walks of life and are virtually of every shade, every ethnicity and every age group. One of the most stunning photos features two graceful older women, proudly donning their curly crowns.
According to the gallery, the purpose of this exhibit is to show “the power, beauty and glorious nature of the ‘Fro and tells the deeper ‘hairstory’ of each of its models. It respectfully captures the spirit and essence of the Afro hairstyle today while paying homage to the historic significance of natural hair iconic voyagers of the past.” Mission accomplished! Currently, we all are experiencing a very tense racial climate. Everyday I wake to news of police brutality, murder of black lives, injustice, or just plain ol’ racism. It’s refreshing to celebrate something good synonymous to my people, and not focus on the negative.
AFROS is on display at House of Art Gallery located at 408 Marcus Garvey Blvd., Brooklyn, NY through August 1, 2015. Learn more by visiting their site. Purchase Michael July’s AFROS: A Celebration of Natural Hair here.