Stephane Alexis: Chains & Crowns

© Stephane Alexis, Box Braids no. 3 / courtesy of Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain

Chains & Crowns
Stephane Alexis

Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain
963 Rachel East, Montreal
Until May 14th, 2022

This spring, Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain is proud to present Chains & Crowns, Stephane Alexis’s first solo exhibition in Montreal. Inspired by the hair journey of the artist’s mother, this photographic project traces the different hairstyles rooted in black culture, symbols of their creativity, resistance, and resilience. The artist wishes to question the understanding of the crowns on our heads thus creating a dialogue. How to identify the importance of hairstyles in black cultures, explore the effects of cultural appropriation and reaffirm the dignity of black communities?

© PFOAC, Stephane Alexis’s Chains & Crowns exhibition view, May 2022 / courtesy of Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain

The artist is looking to celebrate the heritage of black communities through their hair. His work emanates from his personal experiences with the demographic and sub-demographic segments to which he belongs. Through a differentiated lens, Alexis magnifies the resilience and dignity of his communities and engages the Other to question his own knowledge and awareness. From the exploration of masculinity to the issues of the African-Canadian community, from the world of people with special needs to family caregivers, Alexis conducts a great deal of research drawing from both his own experience and external sources to guide him in the direction of each project. Through the plastic and conceptual qualities of his photographic work, Alexis wishes to build a bridge towards a better understanding of the situations and issues facing his communities.

© Stephane Alexis installation festival Art Souterrain “Voies-Voix résilientes” / courtesy of Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain

Stephane Alexis is also currently exhibiting in Montreal as part of the festival Art Souterrain “Voies-Voix résilientes”, curated by Eddy Firmin. Featured is Ghana Braids no. 1 in monumental format, until June 30, 2022.

“Overcoming adversity and the healing power of shared cultural experience is central to Ottawa artist Stephane Alexis’s photo series Chains & Crowns. Each image in the series (including some shot in an ad hoc studio in the back of a local beauty salon) depicts a different Black hairstyle—Fishtale Cornrows, Box Braids, Senegalese Twists, Bantu Knots, High Cut Fades, Afros—which Alexis has then digitally refined and selectively highlighted with an aura of subtle colour determined in conversation with his sitters. It’s a serial portrait of how identity is perceived, created, and framed.” — Bryne McLaughlin

Stephane Alexis is a second-generation Caribbean-Canadian emerging artist living in Ottawa. A graduate of Algonquin College, he also holds a Diploma in Photographic Arts and Production from Ottawa’s School of the Photographic Arts (SPAO). Stephane Alexis has received several grants from the municipal to federal level and just exhibited in the Karsh Continuum 2022 exhibition (Ottawa) curated by Andrew Wright. He was just nominated as a finalist for Project X Award of 2022. His work is part of many private and corporate collections including the Canada Council Art Bank.

Read complete text “Good hair, bad hair” by Bryne McLaughlin

View the full series Chains & Crowns

Read Claudia Blais-Thompson’s article in journal Le Droit

View Stephane Alexis’s participation in Art Souterrain Festival

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