Tress IV, 2008
Waxy chalk on paper
96.5 x 45 inches
Gift of funds from Sheila Morgan
This self-portrait by Mequitta Ahuja is dominated by a great mass of tangled dreadlocks, rendered with such sensuous tactility that we understand its texture and physicality even though we cannot touch it. By contrast, her face—the usual focus of a self-portrait—is far less detailed, inverted, and unnaturally small. Ahuja has explained that, for African Americans, hair is a basic expression of one's self-identity. She said, "In response to the history of Black hair as a barometer of social and personal consciousness, I make the image of hair both corporeal and conceptual, giving it the psychic proportions hair has in the lives of Black people."