“THE BLACK WOMAN’S CROWN”
Brandon D. Watts – Artist Statement
Art, to me, brings a sense of peace and sometimes a justice served. It brings value to the things forgotten, or lost, in every day distraction. In this series, “The Black Woman’s Crown”, the emotions I wish to emphasize are empowerment, pride, rebellion, and beauty.
When slavery was abolished, black people felt compelled to smooth or straighten their hair and texture to fit in easier. In the 1960’s during the civil rights movement, the afro hair style was “a symbol of rebellion, pride and empowerment”, says Mr. Lynch.
The message I’m trying to convey is that the Afro is black culture and it’s more than just a hair-style. The reason black women are featured for this series is because black women are the adhesive who hold up this culture. They are the ones who sometimes stand alone. They are the ones who nurture and give us the strength to carry on by lifting us up, raising us and being strong influences in the lives of every black child and man. This is the reason my work is a reflection of me, because of my grandmother, my late grandmother, my mother, sisters, aunts and my wife. Without the stories of their struggles in life just being a black woman in general, I would not even comprehend nor be able to understand black culture.
As you look at my series, “The Black Woman’s Crown”, I want you to notice the rhythm and flow; all of the technique and lighting used in the photos. You will see my main photo with a silhouette, which is a representation of every black woman, as well as every black person. The different colors represent society that does not see past color. Even today, we are still misread and misjudged simply due to the pigment of our skin color; black, mocha, caramel, chocolate, etc. No matter the pigment, black is beautiful and the afro represents the rebellion on being forced to fit into a culture that is not ours. It shows that we are not here to be remade, nor molded into what others want us to be. To rebel against that and accept the value in our culture, the beauty, the empowerment and the pride. Notice the choice of the Black and White photos. The world is still seeing black and white. We must cross the line to bring awareness to this. Also, the emphasis of every photo, the pattern, rhythm, and harmony is focused on the AFRO. The crown of our culture and our Beautiful Black Queens of our society.
In closing, “I have done my job if these photos bring awareness, equality, empowerment happiness and strength”
Jahangir, Rumena. “How does black hair reflect black history?” EasyBib. BBC. 31 May, 2015. Web. 19 January, 2017.
“THE BLACK MAN’S STRENGTH”
Brandon D. Watts – Artist’s Statement
Last year, I created a series of work called “The Black Woman’s Crown,” which discussed the symbolism of the Black Afro as it also related to Black Women. In short, this is how I created my new Limited Edition Series “The Black Man’s Strength.”
Before the slave trade, hairstyles were a unique marker of tribal identity, rank and status in West African societies. Hairstyles were almost like a person’s Social Security number. Your hairstyle really signified where you belonged and to whom you belonged.
When Africans were brought to America, slave traders shaved their heads. They were basically making people anonymous. That Middle Passage was an erasure of identity.
In the past, throughout North America, people of African descent have been punished for wearing their natural hair proudly. In the 1960s during the Black Power Movement, afros became a symbol of a renewed pride in one’s African roots. But it also meant BLACK HAIR BECAME POLITICAL.
Now, dreadlocks have been found throughout history but one of the defining moments of dreadlocks came about as a result of the Rastafarian religious movement. The Rastafarians have distinctive dress codes and behavior which includes the rejection of Western medicine, the wearing of dreadlocks, smoking of cannabis and adherence to specific diets. They used dreadlocks as a symbol of embracing African heritage and a defiance of the system, while fighting for Black freedom and power. Also, "People from different faiths look at their hair to be holy and as a form of strength and power," says Slater. "To not comb your hair, to some, is a disregard of vanity and things of the world." But, it's more than just a dismissal of the physical world; it's a Rastafarian belief that knotted hair prevents energy from escaping through the top of the head and hair, allowing it to remain in the body and aid in the STRENGTH of mind, body, and spirit.” Even in the Holy Bible you hear of people like Sampson who gather his strength from his hair.
The Dreadlocks shouldn’t have been seen as something unprofessional but a part of history. A dreadlock hairstyle is a symbol of “Racial Selfhood” not a disgrace to the people. Many Rastafarian men allow their hair to grow out into “dreadlocks” — the term “dread” having become a praise-word in their vocabulary. It is employed to describe the confrontation of a people, who are struggling to maintain racial selfhood, which they contend has been denied them.
In part, the purpose behind these long plaits of hair is to demonstrate a contrast to the generally straight hair of Caucasians, and to “mock” those who disdain their bedraggled appearance. The truth is that God made human beings in his image; therefore, ones genetic hair is God’s love for the person.