Chroma: An Ode to J.D. Okhai Ojeikere
Chroma: An Ode to J.D. Okhai Ojeikere, is an on-going series which celebrates women’s hair styles in Nigeria through a fanciful, contemporary lens. The images are inspired by hair color trends in Lagos and by the late Nigerian photographer J.D. Okhai Ojeikere, who photographed over a thousand different hair styles in his lifetime.
African hair braiding methods date back thousands of years and Nigerian hair culture is a rich and often extensive process which begins in childhood. The methods and variations have been influenced by social/cultural patterns, historical events and globalization. Hairdos range from being purely decorative to conveying deeper, more symbolic understandings, revealing social status, age and tribal/family traditions.
Ojeikere's approach was documentary in nature as he took inventory of hundreds of hair styles and amassed an enormous index spanning over 40 years. He began photographing hairstyles in black and white, following the re-emergence of traditional hairstyles which became popular again following Nigeria’s independence. Prior to de-colonization, wigs and hair straightening had become a commonplace practice, especially in urban areas of the country.
The availability of colorful hair extensions and wools in local markets today has led to unique variations on threading and braiding techniques. Chroma: An Ode to J.D. Okhai Ojeikere, is a celebration of traditional and contemporary braiding methods. The series takes more of a conceptual approach to Ojeikere’s documentary style and recontextualizes some of Ojeikere’s (and other) hairstyles to highlight current and imagined hair designs, celebrating the art of Nigerian hair culture.