A great deal like my contemporaries as a college student at Hampton and Columbia universities in the 1970s, my hairstyle was an afro, as the lengthy locks ended up called and popularized by Black Electricity activists these kinds of as Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, between many others, to symbolize the “Black is Lovely Movement” of that era.
Now, a plethora of purely natural hairstyles are again, booming and hugely popular as a elegance assertion between African Individuals, which Kokomo artist Shailyn Nash marvelously depicts in her triptych IUK senior thesis exhibition piece titled “Our Hair, Our Tale, My Story.”
Her artwork has absent viral, consequently creating Nash an net social media feeling. Two weeks ago on Twitter, she had 35,000 retweets and 200,000 likes. Nash also produced it to The Shade Area on Instagram, which has 25.2 million followers, which include famous people, which she is fast turning out to be.
“My artwork is obtaining really a bit of focus on line — Twitter, Instagram — my cell phone has been ringing nonstop,” she says. “What I really like most about the reaction is that when individuals find it gorgeous, they felt the indicating behind it,” claimed Nash, a senior in the new media, artwork, and engineering (NMAT) plan.
1 of her professors requested through her Indiana University Kokomo downtown art gallery photoshoot, “How does it feel to be a star?”
“It’s incredibly awkward and frustrating,” she replied. “My household, we are all really personal individuals, so to have this a lot interest is quite new.”
The consideration is centered on what her artwork is expressing, Nash contends.
“Yes, folks will seem at it and assume it is attractive, but mostly people sense the piece,” she explains. “People say it inspires them and has even moved them to tears. The piece has begun discussions. Everyone is so, so very pleased. They explain to my mother, ‘You know your baby is a star!’ Everyone suggests it.”
So, way too, is Nash’s muse and professor of New Media & Know-how, Aaron Pickens.
“I appreciate it — not only visually but conceptually,” he told me. “She identified a excellent way to communicate her thought. It’s crystal clear enough, but it is also nuanced, and that is a tricky equilibrium as an artist. It’s open to interpretation.”
J.C. Barnett III is a fellow artist and IU Kokomo Black Student Center director.
“She has this incredible present for capturing the intrinsic qualities of the Black girl,” he opines. “And her emphasis on options, this kind of as hair and lips, magnify individuals attributes to the fullest extent. She has the potential to ‘break the rules’ employing mediums that couple individuals would at any time consider to place with each other. Her inventive expression flows out of who she is and what she sees in herself.”
Nash writes in her senior thesis about her artwork: “Throughout historical past, organic hair has played an integral purpose in the Black neighborhood, from superbly textured coils to our intricately designed braids.
“Traditionally speaking, natural hair, far more specifically braiding and braided hairstyles, were used by slaves as maps to flexibility, to transport food items, and even as a bonding agent. The act of braiding became a time for us to deepen bonds and find out from other individuals. In a perception, normal hair is our crown, a kind of glue that attracts our neighborhood collectively.”
She carries on, “I use my art to rejoice the issues that hook up us, points that ended up as soon as utilized towards us. With this collection, I intend to portray equally the elegance of organic hair as very well as the too much to handle feeling of local community it arrives with. I want viewers to get a far better comprehending of how important pure hair is to the Black group.”
Research was advantageous for her, permitting her to learn how African People have absent as a result of cycles with all-natural hair. Black pure hair models have exploded in attractiveness in the latest many years between both equally guys and women.
“We went by way of a period in which everyone was straightening their hair,” she recounts. “Straightening, of program, is harmful to our hair, so likely all-natural, all people realized to take pleasure in their hair additional. After you realize how lovely natural hair is and can be, you almost do not want to straighten it anymore.”
“What other hair defies gravity?” Nash extols. “I can braid it, I can twist it, I can dress in an afro, a puff and I can straighten it. I can make my hair mimic other hair. It is genuinely magical.”
So is Nash, in accordance to her proud father or mother.
“I’m not surprised by everything that’s going on. I have often recognised she’d be fantastic,” provides her mother, Janet Christie. “Greatness is the beneficial effect that you have on other folks and the skill to influence other individuals to do the very same or much better. She is not only an remarkable artist, but she is an awesome human remaining. She’s variety, considerate, loving, compassionate, respectful, pushed, decided, beautiful inside of and out.”
Right after she graduates in Might 2022, Nash wants to be a professional artist and strategies to be based mostly in Kokomo.
“I hope ultimately to produce a house in Kokomo the place creatives can mature and master,” she stated. “People request me, ‘Are you heading to leave Kokomo? You have to leave Kokomo.’ I truly feel like there is a stigma that in get to be prosperous, you have to leave. I never experience that way, and I don’t want other folks to experience that way. I want to make achievement in Kokomo.”