Bobby Rogers, 25, created his portrait project titled “Don’t touch my crown” inspired by a lyric in Solange Knowles’ hit “Don’t touch my hair” featuring British recording artist Sampha.
Solange’s song and album, A seat at the table, are largely recognised as a celebration of ‘Blackness’ and black American heritage and culture. The opening verse of “Don’t touch my hair” – the ninth track on Solange’s album includes the lines”
– Don’t touch my hair, when it’s the feelings, I wear
– Don’t touch my soul, when it’s the rhythm, I know
– Don’t touch my crown, they say the vision I’ve found
– Don’t touch what’s there, when it’s feelings I wear
In an interview he gave to BuzzFeed news, Rogers said:
There is a interdependent notion of the hair of our ancestors as not only untamed, but savage. It’s woven into our consciousness and the history of dismantling the notion is far less minimal than the history of maintaining it.”
“The photographs on a minimal level are beautiful images of black people that you’ll see in a gallery or on a screen that’ll be added to your subconscious rolodex of positivity associated with blackness,” he added.
“On a deeper level I’m hoping you’ll study the photographs and actively make an effort to understand and decolonize your understanding of the subject matter. Realize why black hair isn’t here for your critique and entertainment.
“And as much as it hurts one’s feelings to get snapped on for touching our crown, understand that our hair and bodies are just that: ours. Then ask yourself again why the title is ‘Don’t Touch My Crown’ and not ‘Touch My Crown’ as some have legitimately inquired.”
Rogers is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the US and has seen social media react virally to his work in the past. Just as it did when he shared a project that he created about being black and Muslim in America. Rogers was moved to create a visual response to his own experiences, but also those of his friends and family as Black Muslims in the US. Inspired, he produced his previous viral project under the #BeingBlackandMuslim banner. The popular hashtag was launched the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative to encourage Islamic African-Americans to share their experiences and stories.
Rogers’ work is currently exhibiting at the Museum of American Art in Minnesota and he will have his first solo show opening in October at the Pubic Functionary in Minneapolis.
If you’re a fan of compelling portraiture with a strong and current narrative thread, Bobby Rogers is a photographer whose work is worth keeping an eye out for.