Turning hair into art: 'I've always had a talent', says Lebohang Motaung

07 March 2019 - 07:46 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Visual artist Lebohang Motaung has turned hairstyling and braiding into art.
Visual artist Lebohang Motaung has turned hairstyling and braiding into art.
Image: Twitter

Johannesburg-based visual artist Lebohang Motaung has been widely praised for her creativity and unique talent of turning hair into art.

Moriri, which loosely translates as “hair”, is the name of a project she has launched, which showcases different hairstyles, including braids and cornrows.

Motaung told TimesLIVE she has always been a hairstylist, a talent which inspired her to pursue visual arts and eventually led to Moriri.

“I have always considered myself as an artist, even when I was not drawing or painting, but I have always thought of hairstyling as an art form on its own. I then wanted a career that would offer the same form of expression and creativity, and visual art became that for me.”

Motaung has been praised on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for her talent. 

“My work has been received very well by the public. Everyone has a hair story and they relate to my work. My work is very unique and a lot of people are surprised and amazed because it’s actually something they have never seen before.”

While studying at Vaal University of Technology (VUT), Motaung juggled her studies with styling and braiding fellow students’ hair.

“I would occasionally come back from class and find one of the students waiting for me to plait their hair, but it was not enough to see it in someone’s head. I wanted to see it in large-scale artworks, where people can stand in front of it and look at it.”

Her work has seen her fly the South African flag in America and she had a solo booth at Johannesburg’s Turbine Art Fair in 2018.

Motaung is currently doing a residency programme with The Project Space, a Johannesburg-based cultural platform that aims to empower young African female artists. She is being mentored by artist Benon Lutaaya.