Sunday School’s Josef Adamu and artist Tammie Knight collaborate on a miniature scale gallery exhibit
Following the launch of The Hair Appointment exhibition in 2019, the team decided to re-tell the story of natural hair braiding – this time in 1:12 scale.
- Ayla Angelos
- 9 March 2021
Josef Adamu is a Toronto-raised and New York-based creative director who’s aways nurtured a keen eye for photography. But as things turned out, the budding creative found himself drawn more so to the process of storytelling, styling and producing. It was this very narrative-driven attitude that the idea to launch Sunday School in 2017 first blossomed, all with a vision to bring artists together through passion projects. And since its debut into the realms of branding and digital content, Josef and his team have worked with the likes of Nike, Converse, Obaasima and more, paying close attention to stories navigating culture, technology, sports and education.
Alongside its more branding focused work, Sunday School has also embarked on a few more creative (and personal) endeavours too. This includes The Hair Appointment, which saw the team produce a series of photographs and exhibits – that which highlights the story behind natural hair braiding within the Black community. The team bound together to create a travelling exhibition and worked closely with fellow creative Jeremy Rodney-Hall on the photography, and collaborated with Brooklyn-based hair studio Alima’s Braiding Salon, documenting the conversations and beauty processes found in the salon and in the home. A team of models, stylists, designers and assistants helped to build the vision, and the exhibition was brought to life in New York, Oakland and London, reaching over a million people in the process.
Three years have since passed and the team recently decided to re-tell the story of The Hair Appointment, this time through a slightly different medium, and on a surprisingly much smaller scale. In this sense, we’re talking about a “miniature gallery”, conceived and curated by artist Tammie Knight. As Sunday School’s latest collaborator, Tammie has composed an exhibit that reinterprets hair braiding salons by using the images from the original photographic series. “When I first saw the exhibit back in 2019, The Hair Appointment struck me as a very special project,” says Tammie of her experience viewing the work. “Prior to that, I had not seen a story that presented and played out visually like this one. The backstory, the influences, all the details, the locations, the talent behind and in front of the camera… it’s such an international body of work.”
During a meeting at a gallery exhibit for The Hair Appointment in March 2019, Tammie was working at VSCO at the time and was showing intrigue to the work that Sunday School had completed. “We connected,” says Josef, “we did not really keep in touch until the fall of 2020. It was divine timing, almost as if God was telling us we had to collaborate to celebrate our two-year anniversary of meeting one another. The way its all played out is still mind-blowing to me.” In synchronicity with this somewhat meet cute, Tammie was in thought about extending the miniature gallery work she created last summer. These ideas circled around building work in 1:12 – a traditional scale for models and miniatures – and finding an opportunity to re-imagine gallery exhibitions to make them more accessible, “both because of a pandemic and also outside of that,” she adds. “It made sense for The Hair Appointment to be part of this work, so I reached out to Josef of Sunday School.”
Upon doing so, the two of them worked together to give The Hair Appointment a new lease of life. Largely, this meant capturing what Tammie first saw while viewing the show at VSCO’s micro gallery in Oakland two years ago. “The key difference would be that Josef and I agreed that colour on the walls would be an essential part of telling and re-telling this story in small scale,” she says. In her head, she pictured the set up as being a gallery-type experience with a salon setting installed at the back, placing emphasis on this space as a focus point to the experience. After viewing the images from initial exhibit, Tammie chose the eight images that stuck out to her and added in three profile shots of the Black models to be an integral part of the salon set. “I felt compelled to put the images of the young girls and the little one getting her hair braided across from the images of the Black woman,” she continues to note. “I thought it would make a beautiful juxtaposition and contrast.”
Much of Tammie’s gallery creations tend to reference a specific geography that can be viewed through the doors or windows. This project, by contrast, was twisted slightly in a way that allowed for a flush of light to shine through and into the warm space, “with its soulful green walls.” To achieve as such, the artist built a large door with frosted glass, all in all telling the story in a different and indeed very unique manner. You’ll see Jeremy’s artful portraits adorned with mini creations and, for example, an image of two sisters dressed in green school uniforms (one of Josef’s favourites) accompanied by counterparts of love, kinship, unity and, in his words, safety.
The project has launched in conjunction with International Women’s Month, which gives great pertinence to the work at hand. “The Black woman’s story is a distinctively powerful one, and our hair is an irrefutable part of our story,” says Tammie of how women’s contributions and accomplishments have been minimised throughout history. “That speaks to me in ways that have made this project a very personal and even emotional one,” she concludes. “It was timed to land just as we concluded Black History Month, and as we began Women’s History Month. It felt like a rare opportunity to position the work at a time that would be most relative and significant.”
GallerySunday School and Tammie Knight: The Hair Appointment Miniature Gallery (Copyright © Sunday School and Tammie Knight, 2021)
Sunday School and Tammie Knight: The Hair Appointment Miniature Gallery (Copyright © Sunday School and Tammie Knight, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.