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Brazilian Hair Artist Janice Mascarenhas Creates With Everything from Clay to Computers — Interview

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In the rare moment when Mascarenhas isn’t traveling, their work still transcends borders. “You can have a different idea and show it to the world using just the internet,” they say. They have designed NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are basically records of ownership (often for works of art) to be bought and sold. Mascarenhas’s NFTs — some decorated with ceramic face masks and chunky box braids — look like they belong in a gallery and, in fact, have been in a virtual one, called “Fantasy,” last October. Mascarenhas enjoys the flexibility NFTs give them to support artists, particularly those of color, and isn’t shy to admit that it’s an opportunity for profit.

Ar + Vin. Vogue Brazil, 2021

But for Mascarenhas, hair is the real foundation for great potential. “One day I realized my hair is art — and started to use hair as a medium for my art,” they say. Hair has brought one of their grandfather’s paintings back to life, replicated across braids (above) in one very cool take on a modern art installation. Soon, Mascarenhas’s creations will be featured in a film about African diasporas and global connections. “I like to talk about culture, history, and research Black narratives around the world,” they say.

One thing they’ve discovered through it all? No matter where they are, if there are Afro-descended people, Mascarenhas can communicate: “Even if we can’t speak the same language, there is always hair.”

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