Goldilocks the intruder—who got away with breaking and entering; Rapunzel, Rapunzel of the long blonde ladder of hair and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, he of the flowing mane. For so long, our heroes have tossed their flowing locks in storybooks and screen, so it’s no wonder that Dr. Tameka Ellington, co-curator of TEXTURES: the History and Art of Black Hair has “always been compelled to understand the disdain Black people had about their hair texture. I wanted to dive deeply to the root of that self hate and try to offer a solution or means by which Black people can begin to heal.” 

The historic exhibition at Kent State, 20 years in the making, and in partnership with their Wick Poetry Center, is a joyous “hair story” told with paintings, sculpture, photographs, ads, magazines and hair products, along with implements, a true historical and community presentation, drawing from artists and academics, as well as local barbershops and salons. While fashion and fun dazzle throughout the show, each tableau is an opportunity for important conversation; for example, the ongoing fight to protect workers from race-based hair discrimination. Ellington’s colleague, Dr. Joseph Underwood enthusiastically hopes, “that it serves as a space where anyone from any background, can ask questions, engage in dialogue, or just appreciate the incredible aesthetics of Black hair.” —Gwynned Vitello

The exhibition is on view through August 7, 2022.