CREATIVE HAIR ARTIST
With her ornate creations, Johannesburg’s Nikiwe Dlova is putting pressure on the hair and art industries to innovate in ways that truly celebrate African and Black culture. But what inspires the artist who structures headpieces into wearable hair with a nod to the continent? She tells OkayAfrica in this condensed interview:
African people and nature inspire me. I don't have mentors, but Sephora Joannes and Nadeen Mateky (both hair artists) inspire me.
On a moment that made her realize her impact:
When a few people commented on my hair and said they wished they can do that, but because of work and what people were going to say, [it] stopped them from expressing themselves. That's where I knew I had to focus and expand on my work—to give the people the freedom to be by creating headpieces that they can take them out any time and also own their boldness anytime without limitations.
On impacting youth through her creations and cultural understanding of hair/art:
My work has impacted the youth culture by showing them creative hairstyles/headpieces to remind them of their African identity and to instill more confidence and fun in themselves. My work is also showing the next generation the different types of African representations so that they can see themselves and not be scared to express that.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity