Tonnes of marble, masses of clay, and mountains of steel are but a few of the things most sculptors need to get creating. Laetitia Ky? Not so much.
Armed with some wire, thread, and her own hair, the Ivory coast-based artist is adept at fashioning sculptures that are not only playful but also make some serious political statements.
What’s surprising is that the artist-slash-designer hasn’t always had the strongest relationship with her hair growing up. Though by age five she’d learnt to braid her mum’s and sister’s hair, it wasn’t until six years ago when she decided to embrace her natural hair, that she unearthed her true love for it. “When I went back to natural hair six years ago my love for braiding increased. I wanted to go back to my African roots,” Ky explains.
Years later, this love of braiding turned into art, with Ky creating the iconic hair figurines she has become known for. “At the beginning, it was only for fun and to show my creativity, but with time it changed,” Ky says, “I saw the impact it can have on people so now it’s more serious, more engaged. I do it to send messages of self-love, tolerance, equality and respect. I do it to try to ameliorate the world I live in.”
Without a doubt, over the years, Ky’s sculptural creations have assumed a more complex and meaningful design and message. Earlier this year, conveying her disappointment in the lack of gender equality across the globe, she unveiled her hair bent into scales weighing the two genders. In 2017, she presented her hair mimicking bulky muscles over her slim arm as a representation of the bullying she received as a child for the way that her body looked.
“As a feminist, everything related to women’s issues, including violence done to women, is something that greatly touches me,” KY says. “I don’t think that one needs to be a feminist in order for this kind of thing to affect us. To be human is enough.”
Having amassed over 240,000 followers on Instagram, Ky explains, “Thousands of people can say the same thing without it having the same impact. What makes the difference is the way you say it. Art makes it possible to reach more people because it finds an original, particular way to speak about the subject so that many people will linger.”
Photos: Instagram and Supplied