Fatimata Traore is a Chicago-based Malian-American professional hair braider, teacher and entrepreneur. Traore is president of the Illinois Association of Hair Braiders, a member of the African Political Action Committee and board member of Mali Relief Fund.
Sarah Beth Woods is a Chicago-based artist who uses the languages of craft, sculpture and public engagement to explore femininity through material culture, artifice and adornment.
Fatima Traore and Sarah Beth Woods are the 2015/2016 Crossing Boundaries Prize awardees through Arts+Public Life & Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago. BRAID/WORK is a collaborative art project that crosses over and through the disciplines of performance, sculpture and social engagement. It speaks to the history and aesthetics of handwork and braiding culture as well as identity politics, adornment and labor through a process oriented, material and performative lens.
BRAID/WORK is supported by a website, blog, traveling workshops and lectures focusing on the history and practice of African hair braiding through the manipulation of synthetic hair weave. Remnants from the braiding workshops will be collected, photographed and assembled into sculptural work. The culmination of the BRAID/WORK project will include a reception and catalog release on May 15th, 2016 from 1-3pm at the Arts Incubator in Washington Park. All collaborators and participants are encouraged to attend as a way to honor their involvement in the project.