Little Jamaica mural signifies importance of hair in Black culture

A new mural in Toronto’s Little Jamaica enclave aims to recognize the role of Black hair as an art form and an expression of identity. Photo courtesy STEPS Public Art

A new mural in Toronto’s Little Jamaica enclave aims to recognize the role of Black hair as an art form and an expression of identity. Photo courtesy STEPS Public Art

A new mural in Toronto’s Little Jamaica enclave aims to recognize the role of Black hair as an art form and an expression of identity.

Designed by multidisciplinary artist Curtia Wright, the 120.7 m2 (1300-sf) mural, titled Our Crowns, was unveiled to the public on Oct. 9. It illustrates the story of a mother who moves to the neighbourhood from Jamaica to raise her family.

According to Wright, “Hair is used as a conduit to communicate this journey, while the braiding hands on either side of the mother’s head represent community, generational knowledge, and support.”

The mural was installed to signify the culmination of The Mane Event, a program series which ran this summer to honour the importance of hair in Black culture. It also serves to highlight the significance of barber shops and salons to the cultural fabric of Little Jamaica.

“Neighbourhoods like Oakwood Village and Little Jamaica are home to many historic Black-owned local barbershops and salons that epitomize the root of our collective identity, our culture, and belonging,” says Dr. Jill Andrew, PhD, MPP for Toronto-St. Paul’s and a supporter of the project. “The Mane Event celebrates oneness and diversity; a significant partner in our movement towards Black liberation and community-building alongside allies.”

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