Chains & Crowns explores afro hairstyles and its impact on culture from a socio-historical standpoint. As the lineage of these hairstyles are followed, we find the opportunity to understand members of the culture not only from a technical standpoint, speaking on structure, maintenance, and styling, but the history of the people and persons. Time stamped are these hairstyles throughout members of the artist's communal and individual history, as they’ve cycled through periods of oppression and appreciation through the lens of society and self. Many of these hairstyles deriving from Africa and the Caribbean have not only been repurposed for survival and adaptation, but ingenuity and creativity. Deeply woven within the roots of black culture is the influence of style, community and resilience that has brought growth and character development to many of its members throughout time. This shifting of character has brought forth a unique perspective to Western culture. As we arrive in the present moment, we are free to follow the strands of love and overall beauty of what we call “black hair”.

Alexis’ installations can be found along the ION and Grand River Transit stops throughout our exhibition zones. By honouring tradition and community through hair, these installations will be accompanied by a short amalgamation of interviews from folks who sat for portraits, holding space for conversations around conversations the histories of self-representation through the discussion and celebration of many distinct styles that speak to the many histories that surround them. This interview is accessible via QR code on the billboard as well as below.



Stéphane Alexis, Chains & Crowns Box Braids no. 1 (2020). Image courtesy the artist.

Stéphane Alexis (he/him) is a Canadian artist based in Ottawa. His work stems from personal experiences, demographics, and sub demographics to which he belongs. In 2021, Alexis was selected for the Karsh Continuum Exhibition in 2022 and has numerous national publications.