Qualeasha Wood (b. 1996, Long Branch, New Jersey USA) holds a BFA in Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, USA. Her work spans from printmaking, textile works, and digital media and suggests realities and narratives surrounding black femme bodies as they existed, and currently exist, as well as proposing potential futures in which they may exist. Through creating new narratives of black potential, Wood’s work often creates dialogues across time in different historical contexts and settings. It is not about imagining an alternate reality but proposing a new perspective on an existing narrative that is just as real as the standardized Eurocentric view.
Wood’s tapestries depicting black women as religious deities, martyrs, and saviors adopt iconography of catholicism contextualized through computer generated compositions. These works place God, a hot young ebony on the internet, front and center, positioned to be worshipped. Through digitally weaving these pieces, Wood is creating Afrofuturist works that are distinctly contemporary while relating to themes touched on by Mark Dery in the essay “Black to the Future” (1993).
In a video titled Just For Me, Wood performs a youtube-esque tutorial on a creme hair relaxer of the same name, accompanied by the following text:
I got my first perm early.
My mother combed out my braids and took out all the little beads holding the ends.
I don’t remember how old I was.
I do remember how i would wince every time that cold, stinky creme touched my scalp.
I remember how I would jump at the sensation; the cold washing over me like the skin I desired most, smothering me with its touch.
I remember the crinkling of my mothers gloves as she rubbed vaseline on the tip of my ears, around the edges of my hair.
I remember her asking me , “ Have you scratched your head today?”
Of course I had scratched my head today. I had scratched my head today, yesterday, the day before.
I always scratched my head, no matter how much she warned me not to.
“It’ll burn” she warned.
What she didn’t warn me for was what she couldn’t have.
She couldn’t have warned her little black girl to be careful of the hidden dangers that come with relaxing your hair. Breakage of the heart Splits with identity Damage to the psyche Loss.