Soapy Hair Stories: Appropriations of Roy Lichtenstein

Up close view of Susan's Boyfriend Loves Her Afro
It's quite an over dramatic notion- the way women obsess about beauty- whether it's makeup, body image, and age. It has gotten to the point of shallow ridiculousness due to media ploy. Yet hair roots are another story entirely nowadays, especially African Americans fighting a raging battle between staying naturally beautiful or getting the sleek, kink stripping perm.
Keep in mind, men never have to obsess with image as much as women do. They're allowed to keep their hair in any way, in any style while women resort to spending tons on weaves, relaxers, perms, and extensions to appear "attractive" and in turn, cruelly punishing natural sisters for not following suit.
Based on true accounts of a turbulent upbringing (was given the ugly nickname "Carpet" in school), the tragedy of African American women despising free style wearers and going as far as publicly criticizing and embarrassing them is a sickened hatred has always confused me. This destructive mentality of "nappy is ugly" and "African roots are shameful!" are the basis of this work.

The Straightened Mistake
Yet, I wanted to soften the harsh blow, put a lighthearted spin to the grueling events related to hair trials from my own personal experience. Two compelling books also came to aide- Tenderheaded: A Comb Bending Collection of Hair Stories edited by Juliette Harris and Pamela Johnson and Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Lips, and Other Parts by Akiba Solomon and Ayana Byrd. 
Now soap operas are filled with intense, fluffy drama- always characters plotting and scheming to tear apart loving relationships.
Isn't this kind of conflict similar to hair? 
With deceitful media and cosmetics companies selling a specific ideology that excludes afros and kinky enjoyment, there is a such thing as peer pressure.
Playing with this very cheesy theme, I used iconic pop artist, Roy Lichtenstein as an informative guide in creative process. So I appropriated his original concept, but ethnicized his traditional blond characters crying over boyfriends. In Soapy Hair Stories, these women are teary eyed over dreadful root decisions and consequences. Taking the seriousness of hair issues in graphically humorous circumstance, in every composition, pictured crying and looking like downright pathetic basket cases, these women are simply detailed in varied states of distress- passionate joy in Susan's Boyfriend Loves Her Afro, regret of a relaxer aftermath in The Straightened Mistake, or agony in To Relax Or Not to Relax.
Prismacolor colored pencils were another challenging aspect, especially with pressing down hard on the surface, trying to cover as much ground as possible, and constant sharpening, but I bravely managed to succeed my goal.
However, since I found myself enjoying the subject matter, printmaking may be the next step. For the feedback has been astounding and informative, giving me ideas on taking this concept further.

Soapy Hair Stories is universal though the characters are minorities, relating to just about anyone.
Long, straight, short, curly, kinky, nappy..... every women either passionately dislikes or ardently loves her hair.

Hopefully, more than anything, people with hair shame will not hide underneath the guise of hurt and anguish, but relish in the joy that Mother Nature created.
Laugh, cry, and be emotional, but love the value on your head too!

To Relax Or Not To Relax
Soapy Hair Stories: Appropriations of Roy Lichtenstein, the new body of six Prismacolor pencil drawings is up at Cachet G International Boutique and Gallery in downtown Dayton with the official reception being the next upcoming First Friday (May 4th!).
Special vegan treats will be on hand from local bakery, Thistle.
Please come out!
It'll be fun and downright amazing, I guarantee it.

Cachet G is located on 133 E. Third St, Dayton, OH, 45402 and Soapy Hair Stories: Appropriations of Roy Lichtenstein is up until May 8, 2012.


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