Artist and photographer Nakeya B. often uses her striking, minimalist, yet bright, direct style of photography to explore the deeply personal relationship many black women have with their hair, particularly within societal context. The images, while serene in their mood are often jarring in their familiarity. Each image can invoke a different memory for a black woman viewer. The images also deconstruct the performance of heternormative notions of femininity that are entrenched in Western beauty standards in the literal sense through performance, an interesting paradox. These standards, of course, affect black women in a very unique way and are embedded into our psyches from a young age. In her artist statement, Nakeya B. talks about why she employs photography and performance as her mediums.
My photographs examine the multiplicity of African –American hair through presenting it in various states whether braided, weaved, straightened, or natural. I am intrigued by its ability to communicate dual messages about a woman’s relationship to herself and to society at large. I often employ the female figure and feminine objects to render representations of black feminality and explore the changing language of beauty. Through past memories and personal observations, I use photography to examine how the racialized notion of beauty shape self-perception from a black feminist context.