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Created by:
Dr. Tanekeya Word  Search this
H x W: 4872 pixels × 4524 pixels
File size: 44.58 MB
digital images
digital media - born analog
Place captured:
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States, North and Central America
2017; scanned 2022
Tanekeya Word describes herself and her work as “Afrofuturist feminist,” “Post-Warhol,” and “Post-Basquiat,” with a focus on “celebrating the black woman… past, present, and future.” Black women are central to her scholarship and her art. Her natural hair journey plays a central role in many of her pieces, including the Supernova Study series seen here. Word says that “hair is a dominant theme in my artwork” because “hair is magical” and central when “creating stories of Black women.”
In this series she uses Relief print (letterpress), gouache, Neocolor crayons, and collage, on custom marble paper. Word notes that by “extracting parts of the letterpress print and collaging images and mappings of space and the natural world within the head and hairstyle, I call upon the African Diaspora’s continuum where traditions are mindfully reshaped through the passage of time and Black womanhood is counter-mapped via an emic perspective.”
A supernova is an interstellar event where a star explodes as it transitions to either a black hole or is destroyed. The root word of supernova, “nova,” is Latin for “new” because the star will temporarily appear to be a new, exceptionally bright star. These violent events are the creation source for several elements, including oxygen and rubidium, and new stars elsewhere in the galaxy. With this astrological framework, Word’s work shows how Black women can cause massive change and seismic shifts in their environments, near and far, as they grow and evolve with a focus on the role of natural hair.
A digital scan (TIFF) of an original watercolor and ink sketch for the series "Supernova Study" from the notebook of Tankeya Word. The sketch is done in black ink on custom marbled paper, washed with watercolors, and depicts an elaborate, Fulani-inspired, futuristic protective hairstyle of a woman with her back to the viewer. She is depicted from the shoulders up with her head and shoulders in blue and purple watercolor against an orange watercolor background. Her hair is parted down the center of her scalp to the nape and arranged into rows of braids or twists. Woven into the center of the hair part is a double five-pointed star shape pattern. The loose ends have been gathered up and styled into two large, round, spoked wheel shapes on either side of her head. The top and bottom spokes on each wheel feature two five-pointed stars twisted into the center of each spoke. The top edge of the print also has a purple watercolor tint.
African American  Search this
African diaspora  Search this
Art  Search this
Black geographies  Search this
Design  Search this
Hair  Search this
Identity  Search this
Women  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Tanekeya Word
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
© Tanekeya Word
Permission required for use. Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Supernova Study
Visual Arts
Decorative Arts, Craft, and Design
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture