feature: chicago native shani crowe opens black hair centric photography exhibition ‘braids’

April 12, 2016

15 years ago, at age 12, Shani Crowe began dreaming up an idea for her first art show. Fast forward to now, the Chicago creative wiz, with the help of local NPO 3Arts, exhibited her newest show ‘Braids’—a hair-centric portrait series. Shot in black and white, ‘Braids’ features 10 images of black models wearing intricate braided hairstyles, which are manipulated with wire and shaped into religious and art historical imagery (peep the halos). “I really love the idea of making women that I know look regal, as regal as they are in real life,” Crowe told

Crowe, who shot and edited the entire project, on top of braiding the hair, has been braiding since she was 11, a passion that now brings her a steady stream of clients. “Braiding is a sacred art in a lot of ways because it’s so rich in tradition[…] [braids] are coming out in pop culture and being exploited as a trend in the fashion scene, I think it’s important for me to honor them, before there’s a time when people don’t even remember them as a traditional black art.” Read Crowe’s full interview with right over here.

By Erin White*, AFROPUNK contributor

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*Erin White is an Atlanta-based writer and AFROPUNK’s editorial and social media assistant. You can follow her on Tumblr or friend her on Facebook. Have a pitch or an inquiry? Shoot her an email at