Shani Crowe is the undisputed queen of braids in Chicago and now she has the pictures to prove it.
Turning photographs of women with braids into enviable high art, she reminds us of the regal look that braids often confer on the women who lovingly adorn them.
She was 12 years old when she initially conceived the idea of her first art show, which she intended to focus on braiding. She had got real good at braiding her own hair and wanted to create various braid styles using rainbow-colored hair and wire.
15 years after the fact, her childhood dreams came true via a collaboration with 3Arts, a non-profit organization in Chicago that works to promote local artists.
Braids as she came to name the art show, opened April 8 and features 10 black-and-white images of African American women, with convoluted hair braids that were reminiscent of crowns and royal headdresses. Speaking to Fusion in an exclusive interview, she said;
“I really love the idea of making women that I know look regal, as regal as they are in real life,”
So 15 years since she first conceived the idea, Shani Crowe handpicked models, painstakingly braided all their hairs and took and edited the beautiful pictures that you will see below. It’s a celebration of black women the world over, as she puts it;
“I also want to show black people for the gods that they are. Not that just black people are gods, but I think everyone has a divine spark in them. I think that [divine spark is] not anywhere outside of yourself. Everyone has to start with the divine within and I really want to capture that with the braids that I do.”
All that being said, enjoy some of Shani Crowe’s braids images below;