Beauty Breaks: Session 3 | Re-cap +Photos
PHOTOS BY ALLY ALMORE
Saturday, September 10th greeted us with a cleansing rain before William Estrada arrived with his mobile screen printing cart, hand crafted, to screen print drawings by Amina Ross. Estrada conducts street screen printing workshops primarily in Lawndale "to question power structures of race, economy, and cultural access." On this particular day, Estrada parked his screen printing cart in front of F4F's building, to print Ross' drawings, that reimagined hair relaxer ads, as an encouraging flyer promoting relaxation. Ross' drawings were designed in black and white to leave the opportunity to be colored in by neighbors, friends and workshop participants.
Over the past three weeks, Beauty Breaks has opened its workshops with one that focuses on meditation, healing and an awareness of the self. To bring us all to look deeply within ourselves for the third workshop, Lotus Love guides us to open up about something we would like to share and something else that we would like to release. Lotus Love shared the importance of breath in saying, sometimes we forget to breathe. "With every breath you take in, you are sending vital nutrients to all organs." We were all guided to breath in affirmations and to exhale things that we don't need. Reminding us in the end that just as much as we need to remember to breath that we also need to remember to love ourselves.
Shani Crowe, an interdisciplinary artist from Chicago's South Side, taught us that loving ourselves doesn't need to be difficult or painful as she walked us through her intentional and delicate hair braiding process. Crowe's setup for her workshop only consisted of two chairs, one that seated her hair model and another that held a bag full of affordable hair supplies. She spoke adamantly about how braiding should and can be a gentle and relaxing experience. She went over how corn-rowing over hand makes for a less painful experience for her clients and how the products that she prefers caters to both beauty and a responsibility to tenderness. Crowe was filled with humbleness, knowledge, and emotion as she shared with us how others have invalidated hair braiding by classifying her skills as something that's considered "low". "People would ask me, "Do you go to college?" Crowe talked about how she worked past the stigma of hair braiding being something that's low class by accepting her gift as economic empowerment as a Black woman. She talked about watching her aunt braid hair and being inspired to fix her own hair in more intricate styles. Soon she became an advertisement for herself as people asked, "Who did your hair?" Beyond hair braiding acting as economic empowerment, the beauty of having a gift that brings so much joy to both Crowe and her clients was outwardly witnessed as she shared her experiences and knowledge. Her hair model, who sat patiently with enthusiasm, left with a zig-zag corn-row pattern at the top that detached from her front hairline as a bang. The remainder of her hair towards the back was put in intricately patterned bantu knots.
While Crowe completed braiding, Jacqueline Carmen Guerrero began her workshop, Methods of Cleansing, on the other side of the room. Jacquelyn Carmen Guerrero aka DJ CQQCHIFRUIT is a Chicago-based multidisciplinary artist of Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican descent, originally from Miami, FL. Guerrero guided participants into a thorough discussion about spiritual cleansing methods from Yoga, Reiki, Yoruba religion to "just my life practice." Guerrero distributed a detailed handout explaining intentions for cleansing, different ways that prayer works, preparations for cleansing, cleansing bath ingredients and how to work alongside lunar phases for certain cleansing methods. Guerrero sat amongst us carefully walking us through the handout and how to connect different energies within ourselves, rather than seeing our body and energies as separate entities. One particular exercise that Guerrero walked us through was connecting the hara, which is originally a Qi Gong Exercise. Guerrero gave us all warm eye contact for reassurance as we connected our upper (third eye), middle (heart centered) and lower hara (lower abdomen) through energy connectivity and breathing.
With an array of meditative exercise and the beauty of witnessing Crowe's gentle touch, we all left centered and inspired.