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Arts Council to host “Straw Into Gold” Exhibition

Updated: Mar 18, 2023

Arts Council to host “Straw Into Gold” Exhibition

A Photographic Journey featuring Rosa “Malikia” Johnson

Winston-Salem, NC (January 20, 2023) -- Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County will host exhibition Straw Into Gold: A Photographic Journey featuring Rosa “Malikia” Johnson. The exhibition will be on view in the Main Gallery at Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts January 27 – March 11. An opening artist reception for the community is scheduled for Friday, February 3, 5-7 PM.


Straw Into Gold: A Photographic Journey highlights the cultural legacy of African Ancestral Hair Sculpture through creative visionary Rosa “Malikia” Johnson. Known as “The Queen Mother of Braids,” Malikia’s unique, stylistic hair designs of intricate braiding and elaborate bead work have been showcased on notable icons such as Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Cicely Tyson, Beah Richards, and Abbie Lincoln to name a few. The exhibition features more than one hundred photographs including three dimensional objects and artifacts that represent a fraction of Malikia’s rich historical archive spanning the 1970s through the early 2000s.

The artistic influence of Malikia’s sculpted hairstyles set a trend for American society to embrace a culturally rich legacy from across the African diaspora. “I am honored to share this traditional, cultural expression of glorious artistic African art,” said Johnson. “I have spent over forty years immersed in the exciting discovery of African traditions and adornment of which hair sculpture plays a vital role. The beauty expressed in traditional African art excited my imagination, propelled me into this art form, and enabled me to travel the world and raise my four children, of which I am grateful.”


This exhibition is presented in partnership with Forever Nubian Productions. Forever Nubian Productions curates unique “Afric-Chic” events highlighting artists of the African diaspora through fine art, film, and performance art.


Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County is the chief advocate of the arts and cultural sector in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Arts Council’s goal is to serve as a leader in lifting up, creating awareness and providing support to grow and sustain the arts and cultural offerings throughout our region, ultimately bringing our community together and making it a great place to live, work and play.


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