Arts + Culture

The Magic of Black Women's Natural Hair is Captured in these Multimedia Works by Pierre Jean Louis

The Haitian Instagram artist uses nature and the cosmos to celebrate black women’s natural tresses.

Inspired by trending hashtag #BlackGirlMagic and his older sister’s natural hair journey, Haitian visual artist Pierre Jean Louis made a departure from his usual acrylic work, last fall, to show his appreciation for the beauty and versatility of black women’s gravity-defying kinks and coils.


The New Jersey-based creator also son of popular landscape oil painter Bonaventure Jean Louis of Haiti—turned to mobile app Enlight to photoshop pastoral and cosmic scenery onto black women’s natural hair in portraits and selfies he found on social media.

And the result is absolutely mesmerizing, and has attracted quite a following for Jean Louis, 23.

Okayafrica caught up with multimedia artist Pierre Jean Louis by phone to learn more about his background and what inspired his stunning vignettes.

 

When she is told Her skin is too dark; I do not hesitate to offer, That the sun loved her so much It kissed her more Than the rest of us. TGIF ! My new Favorite muse: @purp.alpaca

?????? have a beautiful weekend. Be safe ✌?️

A photo posted by Pierre Jean-Louis (@pierre_artista) on

What’s your backstory?

I was born in Port-au-Prince, [Haiti] and my dad's an artist too. I grew up watching my Dad paint a lot. That's kind of where I got it from. I moved to the U.S. when I was thirteen, and at first, I didn't know [any] English. I kind of hated it, but over the years, I learned English. I went to school so I made new friends, long time friends.

You mentioned your sisters, were they an influence on your project on Instagram?

Yeah, my oldest one, a couple years ago, she started going natural and I started seeing how much her hair was growing and how beautiful it was and since then... I started drawing. Then, over the years, I switched it up a little bit. I started painting after my dad told me if I really want to take my art serious, I need to start painting. [Then I] just changed it a little bit and started doing the graphic computer work and all that.

Every flower must push through the dirt to get to bath in sunlight. Muse: @blissfullqueen

A photo posted by Pierre Jean-Louis (@pierre_artista) on

How long have you been creating in this style?

I started with colored pencils and that was like two or three years ago. Then over the years, I started painting. It's the same style, this is my actual style. If anything, that's what people know me for— is for the flowers and women in general. I feel comfortable to do black women more because [their] hair is more flexible. But women inspire me, in general, when it comes to art. It's women and nature—the world around me, actually.

When did you start doing the work that has gone viral on Instagram?

I did my first picture at the end of last year. I kept it on my phone. I never shared it until like December. Then, my friend saw it and he's like, ‘just make more.’ I started making more and then people started seeing them—and it just took off from there.

Yeah, I guess you didn't set out for this to become so popular, but then it did?

I was just having fun with my computer and my phone, you know? I took my sister's picture first. Then, boom. I'm like, ‘Wow.’ It's just amazing how people really appreciate it.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder ?had to watermark my pictures ?

A photo posted by Pierre Jean-Louis (@pierre_artista) on

What artists have influenced your style?

It's my father most definitely. At first, I didn't know any other artists besides my father until I moved over here. It's just my dad that's always been a big part of my inspiration and motivation actually. In fact, that's where I get the nature part because he does a lot of green, a lot of nature, a lot of water and just nature in general. That's his main medium, that's where I got mine from.

Why black women and natural hair as muses?

A lot of black females don't feel comfortable wearing their natural hair, but the ones that do—as an artist, I have to tell them how much I appreciate them for being comfortable and proud for rocking their natural hair. Those pictures that I make—it's for the ones who are proud of themselves and proud to show their African heritage. Maybe I can inspire some other black girls to just join them, and just say ‘F the world. I'm going to do whatever. I'm just going to do myself.’

The blacker the berry the sweeter the juice. Muse: @danielledesireexoxo Photographer: @2020photography3 ✊?

A photo posted by Pierre Jean-Louis (@pierre_artista) on

There was talk that Haiti would join the African Union and there's always been that connection between Haiti and the continent, what’s your perspective?

I think this is big for us Haitians because we represent Africa in the Caribbean. We are the darkest country in the Caribbean. We represent Africa, so we are part of the African people. I think they should join the African Union to be honest. That's what I would do if I was in charge. I would join them.

Would you say that your project is about self love?

Yeah, it's self love and self confidence and beauty, in general. As long as you’re keeping it classy. You’re keeping yourself natural, that's self love right there. That's beautiful. This is what my project is about, to be honest.

Jean Louis has art shows scheduled in NYC and Seattle this summer.

Interview

Interview: Wavy The Creator Is Ready to See You Now

The multidisciplinary Nigerian-American artist on tapping into all her creative outlets, creating interesting things, releasing a new single and life during quarantine.

A trip canceled, plans interrupted, projects stalled. It is six months now since Wavy the Creator has had to make a stop at an undisclosed location to go into quarantine and get away from the eye of the pandemic.

The professional recording artist, photographer, writer, fashion artist, designer, and evolving creative has been spending all of this time in a house occupied by other creatives. This situation is ideal. At least for an artist like Wavy who is always in a rapid motion of creating and bringing interesting things to life. The energy around the house is robust enough to tap from and infuse into any of her numerous creative outlets. Sometimes, they also inspire trips into new creative territories. Most recently, for Wavy, are self-taught lessons on a bass guitar.

Wavy's days in this house are not without a pattern, of course. But some of the rituals and personal rules she drew up for herself, like many of us did for internal direction, at the beginning of the pandemic have been rewritten, adjusted, and sometimes ditched altogether. Some days start early and end late. Some find her at her sewing machine fixing up thrift clothes to fit her taste, a skill she picked up to earn extra cash while in college, others find her hard at work in the studio, writing or recording music.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

The 10 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Wizkid, Alicia Keys x Diamond Platnumz, Manu WorldStar, Maya Amolo, La Dame Blanche and more.