For African women, hair and beauty is an integral part of their lives. Yet the current discussion of African hairstyles is often seen through a colonial, western civilization lens, without any thoughts on the pre-colonial times and what it actually means to African women. Nigerian-German artist Ngozi Schommers tackles this issue, and many others unique to African women, in her transcendent works.
Using perforated papers, acrylics, and various other mediums, Schommers connects the present with the past in her work The Way We Mask.
By looking at archival images, photos of her older relatives, and the book Among the Ibos of Nigeria by George Thomas Basden, she delves into the similarities and differences, discovering how these beauty standards were — or weren’t — changed by colonization. By looking at the past, she discovered some of the meanings and symbolism within current trends and reconnect with her history.
Similarly, her other works speak of the role of women and the community that surrounds them.
From the food that women cook communally, to the support given after a woman gives birth or the hair care routine that unites them all, Ngozi Schommers’ works are always a visual masterpiece that acts as a window into her world.