"Growing up in Minneapolis, McKayla Chandler’s mother would often braid her and her three sisters’ hair, and then photograph the styles as references for her circle of local clientele. However, it wasn’t until 2020, when Chandler moved back home due to the pandemic, that she rediscovered her mother’s braid book, the photographic ledger of all the different styles she had braided, and realized the artistic potential behind it. Chandler’s series, MOBETTA, uses her mother’s braid book as a launch point into a documentation of contemporary braiding styles and culture. Chandler’s work captures the innate beauty and expressiveness of braiding as an art form and a means of self-expression, but also the symbolic potential of braiding styles as vessels for personal and communal history. Just as the braid book preserved a moment in her own family’s story, Chandler sees her project as a work of “archiving in real time.” As she notes, “There’s so much erasure that happens, especially in the Black community, especially being in America. One way to preserve this history is to just make sure you’re taking those photos, and understanding the importance of being able to pass these things down.”

- Aperture Interview, written by Noa Lin

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