When 'Dope Hairstyles' Meet Art

One designer has infused the endless debates about black women and hair with lightheartedness -- and crowns. 

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Flygirlblog.com. All images courtesy of Andrea Pippins

Baltimore-based graphic designer and artist Andrea Pippins created Crowns of Color, a four-poster series of prints inspired by her love of textiles, woodblock prints, old barbershop signs and images of black princesses -- plus, most obviously, a desire to give black women's hair a break from scrutiny and instead celebrate it in a "lighthearted" way.

Upon seeing the collection, released last week, art and hair fans alike will agree that her mission was accomplished. Colorlines' Julianne Hing spoke to Pippins about her work. Some highlights:

On why the women are all pictured with crowns -- in addition to their individual hairstyles:

Because we so rarely see black women represented as free, pretty and majestic I wanted these ladies to be that in a very lighthearted way, as if they were getting their portraits printed to capture their nobility, but in the style of a barbershop sign or woodblock print

On how she chose the four hairstyles represented:

... [T]hose are some dope hairstyles worn by some amazingly influential ladies. Grace was rocking the high-top fade/gumby before hip-hop adopted it. The afro represented rebellion towards an unrealistic standard of beauty, and the asymmetric bob was crazy -- think about it: Your hair will never grow back the same length unless you cut it all to the shortest length. And then when a black woman rocks a pompadour it defies all gravity, no need to use any hairspray whatsoever.

On Louisiana meteorologist Rhonda Lee's defense of her natural hair on Facebook:

With all due respect, I am personally tired of the natural hair conversation in regards to one having to defend the choice to go natural, encouraging someone to go natural, or speaking to it from a place of political debate ... I think women should be able to do what they want as they wish and that they express their beauty in a way that speaks to them.

Read more at Colorlines.

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