As Queens, We Are Crowned

Milliner Kathy Anderson in a fabulous hat.
Milliner Kathy Anderson in one of her fabulous hats. Photo Credit: Susie Lang

Sonya Clark is a multi-awarded fiber and mixed-media artist whose work often celebrates the head as the seat of sacred presence as well as prestige and social status across Africa and the Diaspora. In her astonishing work, the head is a sacred place where culture, spirit and legacy converge, often in the form of wearable headdresses made with straw, nails, fabric, wire, beads, feathers, pennies (for their symbolic copper content, and Lincoln’s mythic image), found objects, and the artist’s own hair trimmings. Clark’s art celebrates Blackness while interrogating historical imbalances and the roots of racial injustice.

And any discussion of honoring the head in African-descended circles needs to include a discussion of hair, the good, the bad, the relaxed, the happy-to-be-nappy “natural”. Clark writes, “Hairdressers are my heroes. I grew up braiding my hair and my sister’s hair, so in one sense, like many Black women, I had been preparing to be a textile artist for a very long time.”

And, times change. A couple of generations ago, putting on your Sunday best meant stately, sometimes flamboyant hats, especially for Easter Sunday. With or without academic knowledge, many of these hats reflect roots in ancient dynasties. Even a casual glimpse of Ruth E. Carter’s creations for Angela Bassett in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” triggers the memory of the flattened, conical form of the isicholo, the classic Zulu women’s hat of South Africa. Some fashionistas carry on the tradition, while many more celebrate the beauty and power of the head with artistic dressing and ornamenting of the hair.

One of our spotlights this month includes Designer and milliner Kathy Anderson @hatsbykat55 a walking work of art — no wonder celebrated photographer Ari Seth Cohen chose her as one of his elegant subjects for his first book, ADVANCED STYLE. Keep scrolling to view a gallery of her incredible sculptural work below. 

  1. Hats Provide such a Powerful look & Feel. Ms. Anderson is inspiring!

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