Before I Lay  | oil on wood panel | 36 x 36 inches | 2018 | The Colored Girls Museum 

Before I Lay | oil on wood panel | 36 x 36 inches | 2018 | The Colored Girls Museum 

I was invited, by The Colored Girls Museum in Philadelphia, to participate in their portrait project titled First Time I Ever Saw Your Face. The prompt simply required that submitted projects consist of a painting of a little black girl, and documentation of the process. 

When deciding who I would work with for this piece and how I wanted to represent them, I immediately thought of my sisters. I wanted to create a portrait that was about them, but also spoke to specific elements of our relationship with one another. Choosing to describe that sense of sisterhood through hair, presented the opportunity to explore black hair through the lens of younger black girls. Often, black hair is discussed among women, or we talk about black girls’ hair. However, I’ve never had a conversation with a little girl of color about what black hair means to her. Above is the audio of a large piece of the conversation between my sisters and I. Sharing feelings about our hair, discussing relaxers versus being natural, and the meaning of good hair, among many other things, this process allowed me to consider how a 12 and 16-year-old girl identifies with their hair.