Meet The Progressive Artist Raising Hairs

Nakeya Brown talks hair politics, black identity, and Solange

Photo by Nakeya Brown

Photographer Nakeya Brown is kind of a big deal on the internet, with viral photos all around Tumblr. She's known for her interpretation of the politics of black hair, examining how it relates to culture and identity—and on April 10, the 26-year-old photographer is taking her work to Brooklyn, with a solo exhibition titled “In Private Moments” at Five Myles

As we continue to see stories in the media about the respectability of black hair with regards to everyone from Michelle Obama to Zendaya Coleman, the subject is more relevant now than perhaps ever. “It’s always this thing like black hair is the face of black women," the artist tells us. 

Stepping into Brown's warehouse studio in Washington, D.C. feels like entering a portal into the contemporary artist’s mind. In one corner, huge scrolls of colored paper lean beside a table covered in stacks of books about black art, history, and literature. Recognizable props from some of her earlier works like hair extensions and plastic suitcases are piled on the floor, and photos from her latest projects in progress are spread out across the wall.

Get to know Nakeya Brown in this exclusive interview in the gallery, below. We talked about everything from her ultimate hair icon, Solange, to her biggest inspiration—her two-year-old daughter.