Chroma: An Ode to J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere

Medina Dugger

2017 - Ongoing

Lagos, Nigeria

Chroma: An Ode to J.D. 'Okhai 'Ojeikere is an on-going series which celebrates women’s hair culture and styles in Nigeria through a fanciful, contemporary lens. The images are inspired by hair color trends and by the late Nigerian photographer J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, who photographed over 1000 different hairdos in his lifetime.

Ojeikere's approach was documentary in nature as he took inventory of hairstyles and amassed an enormous index spanning over 40 years. He began photographing different hair designs in black-and-white following the re-emergence of traditional braiding methods which became popular again following Nigeria’s independence. Prior to decolonization, wigs and straightening had become a commonplace practice, especially in urban areas of the country. 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 are influenced by social and 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. In this increasingly globalized, connected world, styles and trends quickly become diluted. Ojeikere's images are a reminder of the importance of maintaining visual records of past practices. The availability of colorful hair extensions and wools in local markets today has led to unique variations on threading and braiding techniques providing new interpretations to an age-old practice. African hair remains a political topic worldwide, Chroma is a celebration of traditional and contemporary braiding methods. The series recontextualizes some of Ojeikere’s (and other) hairstyles to highlight current and imagined hair designs, celebrating the art of Nigerian hair culture.

{{ readMoreButton }}

  • Aja Nloso in Yellow

  • Blue Beri Beri

  • Blue Suku

  • Aqua Suku

  • Blue Coiling Penny Penny

  • Emerald Abebe

  • Magenta Onile Gorgoro

  • Orange Koroba with Pony

  • Golden Egg

  • Red Koroba

  • Green Tea Cup and Saucer

  • Royal Blue Agaracha Uplifted

  • Silver Calabar

  • Purple Kinky Calabar

  • Pink Didi with Cowry Shells

  • Magenta Patewo Flower

  • Yellow Tip Twists

  • Yellow Monocle

  • Jade Brush

  • Spikey Calabar