Shani Crowe

Fingerwaves Saint, Shani Crowe

Chicago-based Artist Shani Crowe is taking cornrows to new heights in her new exhibit titled “Braids”, currently on display at MoCADA (the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts) in Brooklyn through July.

The collection of images highlights a series of intricate braided styles, which Crowe created after years of practice. “As a child, I would get my hair braided every two weeks by one of my aunts or an older cousin,” she tells Refinery29. “I picked up the skill from watching my relatives braid, and practicing on dolls. When I was around 11, and my aunts couldn’t execute the designs I wanted, I began braiding [on] my own. I was a walking advertisement for myself, and ended up attracting clientele.”

Shani Crowe

Above All, Shani Crowe

“[This project] is an unapologetic assertion of my pride in my braid art, my culture, and my African ancestry,” she says.

Shakere, Shani Crowe

Shakere, Shani Crowe

When asked about her stance on the cultural appropriation of traditionally black hairstyles, Shani says, “I’ve learned that spending efforts to change someone’s opinion is often mute, as that person has to choose to change their minds or see new perspectives when they’re ready. The only person I control is me, and I choose to create and photograph beautiful braids to honor Black women and hopefully foster connectivity and Black unity.”

Visit MoCada’s website for more information.

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