Medina Dugger’s eye-popping, contemporary celebration of ‘a very political issue’


Lagos-based Californian photographer Medina Dugger takes a whimsical approach to the millennia-old tradition of African hair braiding in her latest series Chroma: An Ode to J.D. Okhai Ojeikere.

“I’ve noticed women in Lagos incorporating colorful threads and weaves more and more,” Dugger explains. “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.”

Hairstyles everywhere change with social and cultural patterns, historical events and globalization.  But in Nigeria, they range from being purely decorative to conveying deeper, more symbolic understandings, revealing social status, age and tribal and family traditions.

Additionally, she was inspired by the work of the late photographer J.D. Okhai Ojeikere, who spend 40 years cataloguing over 1000 Nigerian hairstyles.

He began photographing women’s hair in black and white, following the re-emergence of traditional designs which became popular again following Nigeria’s independence. Prior to de-colonization, wigs and hair straightening had become a commonplace.

“African hair remains a very political issue,” says Dugger. “In our increasingly connected world, cultures and traditions can become diluted and lost. I would love for these images to honor past practices, while also highlighting the changes that are happening.”

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