COUNT IT ALL JOY (selections from series SapphC3-C4), 2020
"My series titled "Count It All Joy '' depicts finding joy as a Black Womxn in our features, being bare and being vulnerable. My femme partner was the subject in the series and throughout she shows contemplation of internal conversation with herself asking if her features are truly beautiful after taking a hot shower. I wanted to show the curlyness in her 4a/4b hair, the moles over her face/nose, her heart shaped lips, the fullness of her almond-shaped eyes, the tattoo depicting our culture on her back and just the essence of who she is BARE. It was a vulnerable piece but true testament to how us as Black Womxn feel about our most ethereal features, and how we contemplate everyday in society if we are beautiful or worthy in life's most precious moments."
Sapph C3, 2020
Sapph C4, 2020
VERONICA ELIZABETH THOMAS in conversation with CHANDLER JONES
THOMAS: Is there a moment, or series of moments, you can recall from childhood, that has shaped the ways in which you engage with your hair?
JONES: My childhood memories are filled with buckets of ballies, barrettes and scrunchies. Saturday mornings were spent sitting on a pillow getting my kinky 4c hair combed through by my mom. The intricate way she took care of my hair, doing it herself or sending me to the best salons for little girls, made it a central piece of my femininity and who I was as a little Black girl. The hot comb was also a staple in our house, for picture days, weddings and special occasions. As I grew into a preteen, I began to think hair was so important, and if I didn’t take care of it, then I would be labeled as unkept, non-feminine or lazy. Throughout those years, I had a strong attachment to my hair. Even while playing sports, being labeled the tomboy, my hair still reflected that girly side, to people that thought otherwise. Now, as a 27- year old androgynous womxn, my hair is still a central piece of my life, but there is more freedom in our relationship. I’m not scared of the changes, the colors and the textures of my hair. It is not restrictive nor is it stuck in one lane. I engage with it. Now, with my own perfect balance of femininity and masculinity. The care of it, from the lessons with my mother, still remains.
THOMAS: PEASY is an homage to Black womxnhood. What does honoring your Blackness and womxn-ness in your everyday rituals look like?
JONES: It’s an everyday privilege to wake up as a Black Queer Womxn in this life. I honor that, by practicing gratefulness in the morning and at night before I go to bed. Simple, tangible rituals, of course, include tying my du-rag on my twists before bed and oiling my partners and my own scalp in the morning. My partner returns the favor by shaping up and tapering my hair. In our home, we believe in acts of self-care. That means lighting incense, lathering up in my best shea butter and saying our affirmations. I honor the daily phone conversations with my mother, that provide wisdom on the ebbs and flows of life. She has taught me how to be a powerful Black womxn, and the early memories of being taught black womxnhood all stem from her and my grandmother.
THOMAS: In what ways does your practice elevate your intention?
JONES: My practices move me and make me better. If I take care of my hair, my home, my mind and my energetic space, then I can elevate to a peaceful state of mind. There is no chaos, no scatteredness, just peace. When I feel peaceful and accomplished, I am a better person to myself, my loved ones and my community. My intentions help me to lead by example.
THOMAS: PEASY asks its audience to look beyond the imagery and into the soul of what it means to be a Black womxn - what does being a Black womxn mean / feel like to you?
JONES: Being a Black Womxn feels like so many things. It feels like the wind on a Fall day. It feels strong, vibrant and comforting, as soon as it hits you. It feels like the coils and textures that change daily in the hair all over my body, especially my head. When I walk into a room, my aura of being a Black Womxn uplifts me, and transcends through my energy. I carry it dearly in my identity. Being a Black Womxn feels just like love. It’s safe and powerful, but also groundbreaking. Being a Black Womxn, in my soul, feels like I have to keep going, to make the womxn who have raised me proud. It’s a privilege and a struggle, but also gritty and passionate. It feels like the highest honor.
THOMAS: Is there any message, feeling or intention you wish to communicate about your experience of Black womxnhood?
JONES: The experience is a powerful one. It’s an ever-changing one. It’s an evolving and beautiful one.