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My Aunty’s Hands pays homage to your grandmother, mother, aunt, big sister, the woman behind the counter ringing you up for your tampons and ice cream, the teenagers tapping their phones on the commute home, the secretary at your office, the woman who braids your hair, the video vixens, the “ghetto” girls, the dancehall queens, the girls with nails  who do the nails, the ladies with big hats in church and the culture that nurtured us and taught us how to look good with two inch claws, but still get the chicken seasoned anyway. With these beautiful hands scalps were greased, tears have been wiped and an intentional adaptation of completing daily tasks became ever so graceful.

Historically black women have been willing to overcome countless social issues in exchange for the aesthetics of having long, beautiful, intricately designed nails. These nails stereotypically have been ridiculed, especially in professional settings and are often a source of shame. The woman with the long nails tapping away at the computer is considered “ghetto” and coworkers at the company BBQ who feel licensed to ask about her bathroom routine have already labeled her as “unclean.”

As nail art becomes more mainstream, the miniature masterpieces that black women tote around are beginning to assume a shiny new image of acceptability. Nail art finally regarded as the art that it truly is, but these hands have withstood cycles of degradation to get here. We want to give you credit where credit is due. Dear Aunty, this one’s for you.


Full nail art exhibit credits:

Artwork by Sakile Broomes, Diana Sabio, and Sky Broadus

Photography by Nichole Burton-Fleming

Jewelry by Aziza Handrafted

Hand modeling by Sky Broadus, Kelly Augustine,

Aziza Nicole, and Muhonja Simba

Curated by Nilea Alexander


Postcard prints available at Marche Rue Dix

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