Exhibit at Madison College draws link between Black hair, injustice

MADISON, Wis. – A new Madison College art exhibit calls on people to explore the vast cultural history of Black hair and reimagine the world through a new lens of identity and truth.

Detroit sculptor Austen Brantley’s new exhibit “Coarse” is an exploration of identity connected to hair at Madison College’s Truax Gallery at 1701 Wright St.

“The show is about not only the coarseness of hair, it’s not just about Black hair, but it’s also about the coarseness of self,” he said.

Highlighting his more than 10 original pieces, Brantley’s work calls on viewers to explore the systemic injustices Black people face because of their hair.

“It’s hard to have a voice in this world sometimes because I feel like originality can be drained out of people very easily,” said Brantley.

Joining community members for a lecture Wednesday afternoon, Brantley walked people through the story and creation of each piece.

“I think it’s really nice, like he definitely touched on like Black hair, but then he had himself interact like involved in many of the pieces,” exhibit visitor Shariah Salahaladyn said.

One piece Brantley displayed featured his own hair, which he shaved off before starting the project.

“Seeing him talk about trying to figure out your identity and not knowing where to fit, I think a lot of people are like that and they don’t show up authentically themselves every day, so I think that was something that resonated with me,” Salahaladyn said.

Brantley’s exhibit will be displayed until May 15. Several of the items are available for purchase and a price list is displayed at the exhibit.