Sharon Walters is a London-based artist who, in her 40s, found a new outlet for her creativity and a desire to celebrate women of African descent.
Seeing Ourselves is a hand-made collage series – Sharon uses images of women with natural afro hair – reaffirming her right to take up space & encourage others to do the same.
Throughout her childhood her afro hair was straightened. She explained that in context – coming to a country where you’re not made to feel that welcome, not seeing people like herself put on a pedestal – she feels no resentment and can understand why people might not be comfortable with their natural afro hair, for a long time she wasn’t. Through the series she celebrates natural beauty and explained how that can be difficult to do when around you you don’t see images of women who look like you, you only see images of women being celebrated who DON’T look like you… you don’t see yourself in magazines and mainstream media or through arts and heritage – hence ‘Seeing Ourselves’.
Unless something affects you directly it’s easy to sit back and not see how that might be an issue for someone else. Sharon gave a good analogy for this – if you’ve got a door open and you’re able to walk through the door you probably haven’t noticed the 5 or 6 people behind you that haven’t been able to walk through that door.
Sharon explained how important it is to have those conversations but also to act on them. If you see people being underrepresented – ask why. Why don’t those people have a seat at the table?
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