Between Sheets and Seamless
July 6-30, 2017
“Each photograph I compose is a reflection of my female identity positioned within hair politics, hair rituals, and black culture. The scope of my work reconsiders racialized beauty standards and defines the bountiful actualities of African American women. Pulling from past memories and observations, I use photography as a tool to navigate the influence of race and gender in shaping perception and representation.”
For her exhibition at Blue Sky, Nakeya Brown has selected images from six of her photo-based series that subvert dominant narratives surrounding feminine beauty and focus on African American women’s experiences. In her series If Nostalgia Were Colored Brown, the artist creates reverent tableaux of vintage album covers and objects used for beautification to pay homage to a history of black feminine spaces of self care. Brown also explores her own family’s hair rituals through conceptual portraiture and still life in Hair Stories Untold and Gestures of My Bio-Myth, and she questions the consumption of racialized standards of beauty in her performative photo series, The Refutation of “Good” Hair, and in her staged compositions of haircare products, Facade Objects. In her most recent series, Mass Production Comes Home, Brown photographs mass-produced personal objects of the past in front of vintage floral wallpaper, drawing attention to the relationship between these products of assembly-line labor and their final homes within the domestic sphere, historically a site of women’s paid and unpaid labor in addition to self-care.
Nakeya Brown was born in Santa Maria, California in 1988. She received her BA in Visual Arts and Journalism & Media Studies from Rutgers University and her Master of Fine Arts from The George Washington University. Her photography has been exhibited at the McKenna Museum of African American Art, Woman Made Gallery, Hamiltonian Gallery, and The Urban Institute for Contemporary Art. Brown’s work has been featured in New York Mag, Dazed & Confused, The Fader, TIME, and Vice. Her work has been included in photography books Babe and Girl on Girl: Art and Photography in the Age of the Female Gaze. Brown was awarded the 2017 Snider Prize by the Museum of Contemporary Photography. She currently lives and works in Washington, D.C.