Katie, I Am More Than My Hair and more art by Alyscia Cunningham

Katie, I Am More Than My Hair, 2017
Digital Photography

Artist Statement
As a filmmaker and photographer, my lens is my expression of storytelling. Although I did not know it then, from a young age, I started my journey as a storyteller, by way of being a good listener, and turning it into art with a social impact.
As the first American generation born as a descendant of Trinidadian parents, I often found myself amongst the elders, in my childhood neighborhood of Queens, NY. I immensely enjoyed sitting with them and visualizing pictures as they creatively poured out tales of their upbringing. Not only was I intrigued by their narratives, but I unexpectedly learned that their experiences were directly related to their personalities as adults.
My earliest conflict with beauty led me to produce work that encourages self-love and shines light on our authenticity as humans. Particularly women since I tell stories with my feminine perspective.
The project exhibited here include portraits from my photography book, I Am More Than My Hair, which I created based on my experience participating in a “Big Chop”. Through a process of personal thoughts, due to the public’s response to me cutting my hair, I considered girls and women who have experienced involuntarily hair loss and the pressure they must feel from the media and within their own communities. I had to remind myself that I am not my hair. Soon after I gave birth to the idea of, I Am More Than My Hair.
Through this project I challenge beauty standards, celebrate the beauty of girls and women with little or no hair and create awareness to alopecia (the partial or complete absence of hair from areas of the body where it normally grows; baldness). Given my personal experience with cutting and donating my hair in solidarity of a good cause, I also included women who have cut their hair in support of a loved one.
The lack of accessibility in art exhibitions—for vision and hearing-impaired persons—is an area that most artists feel helpless to correct. After becoming aware of this gap, I wanted to find a way to make my visual art accessible in new formats, that would open the experience of the art to people often barred from it.
It has been challenging to create accessibility—the cost alone is intimidating. The journey has made me realize why many artists may not consider it. I felt I must be part of the solution. The impact of such an exhibit for people in these communities will be immense. Artists create change by making unseen things visible. I hope this exhibition will inspire many to build inclusion into our artistic and creative process.
Listen the full story here:

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other works by Alyscia Cunningham

Marguerite, I Am More Than My ..., 2017
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Sheila, I Am More Than My Hair, 2017

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