From afros and locs to curls and freshly pressed kinks, Black hair has been an integral part of Black history for decades. In early African civilizations, hairstyles could indicate a person’s family background, tribe, and social status. To this day, Black hair tells Black stories.
Founded by visual artist Alisha Brooks and world-renowned photographer Elizabeth Austin-Davis. The Black Hair Experience fuses the aesthetic of an art exhibit with the engagement of photo-worthy activations, all inspired by the beauty, stories, and culture of Black hair.
TBE exhibit transforms nostalgic moments of shared experiences into instagrammable spaces that connect visitors to moments from their childhood, the vibrancy of hair in present day, and create memories for them to cherish in the future.
“Our goal is to shed light and empower self love of black women and their hair. We want to be able share our journey and connect to each other thru nostalgic experiences and moments. We’ve curated over a dozen different installations that are relatable moments within the black hair journey. Rather its taking a trip to the beauty supply store, sitting in a salon all day on Easter, childhood memories of wearing bows and barrettes, or even being in the kitchen with mom or grandma getting your hair hot combed, its about celebrating every aspect of black hair. The experience isn’t about one particular style of hair. Rather your natural, permed, loc’d, bald, or rock a fro there is something in our experience you can relate too.”
Through four main activations, attendees will experience a beautifully hand-
crafted swing with handles made of large braids and twists, a product showcase with over 1,000 bottles of your favorite hair products dangling from the ceiling, an ode to women of color illustrating the beauty of hair with a spectacular collage, a Back Wall that captures the essence of Black childhood experiences, relatable displays of trips to beauty supply stores and salons,
self-affirmations that every little Black girl needed, a live painter, and the list goes on.
“We ultimately want to spread awareness and normalize black hair. It shouldn’t be an issue in the classroom or an issue at your job. We hope we can foster and spread self love and awareness to moments that are unique to black hair and our experiences with black hair. We felt like this year was very heavy for our community and our people and we really wanted to be able to show black women in our community they have something positive to look back on.”
With black beauty and hair remaining at the forefront of conversation, Alisha and Elizabeth have made it their mission to combat any negative stigmas through their pop-up installation. They launched the first installation of The Black Hair Experience in Atlanta in November 2020 and due to the response and demand, they have decided to take the exhibit on tour. The next stop is Washington, DC and the exhibit will open in May 2021.