Liquid Courage Gallery
The term “Picky Head” is an insult used often amongst Caribbean blacks meaning someone with ethnic hair or hair that hasn’t been processed chemically to look straight and “white.” Having grown up in The Bahamas, this insult haunted me as a child growing up and was the primary reason I insisted on hair relaxers in the first place.
This installation consists of four scrolls measuring 36 by 98 inches each. Each scroll contains 1,000 user-submitted “selfies,’ unique digital self-portraits of men and women wearing their natural hair out. The images were submitted by users of Tumblr, a social media site. The images were converted to black and white so the shear number acted as it’s own patina. Pounds of hair relaxer was dripped from the ceiling and allowed to distort the images. The words “Picky Head” was offset by the corner in large type and spelled out in hair relaxer.
The installation Picky Head concentrates on the millennial ebony woman, and our hair. Social media and video-based tutorials have influenced many millennial women to embrace natural representations of their ethnic hair. I implicate myself in this trend, having used hair relaxer for seventeen years in an effort to mask my blackness. Sodium hydroxide consumed and destroyed my hair and my black identity, but I continued to use it religiously. Who I was biologically was distorted by what I did to myself chemically.