If you attended EXPO last year I am sure you were blown away by Sandro Miller’s “American Bikers” portraits. It [last year] was my first time attending EXPO and a year later it is still a pivotal conversational piece (and inspiration). His new piece titled 'My Hair, My Soul, My Freedom' attempts to capture the true essence of African American hair not only missed the mark, but leaves one to wonder why he choose a subject matter that he has no personal experience with.
The work undoubtedly deserves praise - the photographs were well executed and vibrant. One of the key ingredients that is missing is the perspective of the woman themselves - How do they feel about the constraints of having to conform to various hairstyles to appeal to society ? At what cost? I highly doubt Mr. Miller has ever faced the societal scrutiny or financial cost of having to conform his hair to what he describes as "European" standards of beauty. I was turned off by his portrayal of the women's skin color as exactly the same as well as their hair texture - spiced up with neon colors and decorative pieces you would never be the norm.
A stand out character he may be his work always seems to cause a stir whether it be a positive or negative message. By providing a visual of African American hair in one medium he pushes the stereotype that in an attempt to blend in we are hiding a 'unique' or 'interesting' texture that should be celebrated. The obvious and most accepted vision of what African American hair is visualized in the photos but it hardly scratches the surface - it is a shame that Mr. Miller will clump an entire race of women into a one dimensional visual but rather capture the ever changing
I am not sure why Mr. Miller after the success of 'American Bikers' at EXPO 2016 would he want to take up the issue of 'Black Hair'. It is disappointing to see that he did not take the more realistic, accurate, or raw approach as he did with his previous portraits - but instead fell into the mainstream depiction of what African hair. The final product danced along the lines of cartoonish rather than a unique visual approach that would make audiences reconsider their perception. It is not necessary to say woman come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, and the same can be said with hair texture. It is a shame that a woman's identity can be so wrapped up in her hair.