During a residency at the Center for Photography in Woodstock, New York this past summer, Endia Beal took a group of middle-aged white women to a black hair salon.
She had their hair styled, and then shot the results in "traditional corporate portraits." Beal's fascination with African American hair and the corporate workplace stems from personal experience — in an interview with Slate, she recounts working in a computer lab at Yale while, "sporting a large red afro that stood out among her colleagues, who were mostly shorter white males. One colleague told her about a rumor circulating around the office that many of the men were curious about her hair and wanted to touch it." Because that sort of thing often happens, you know.
Beal acquiesced, allowing her colleagues a touchy, feely moment — and even "to really pull it," if they wanted. And as part of the "Can I Touch It?" project, she filmed it all.
A second series of "Can I Touch It?" photos are soon to follow.
This batch will be accompanied by more video footage — of the women in the workplace with their new 'dos. Keep up with the project at endiabeal.com.