This is not the first time Akhuetie has turned hair into mesmerizing, three-dimensional objects. The 33 year old first carved out a distinctive space for herself through creating what she calls “braided objects”—which exist somewhere between trompe l’oeil and fine art—beginning in 2020. A chair of hers gives off the illusion of being created out of nothing but snaking spirals of cornrowed hair. The frame of a mirror is essentially hot-pink braids constructed with varying levels of thickness and time-tested techniques. After a period of experimentation, a large swath of Akhuetie’s visually compelling art was featured in her first solo exhibition at The Cockatoo in 2021 titled, “We Need Some More Black in Hair.”
Akhuetie prefers the term “hair artist” over “hair stylist.” As she explains, “I can take traditional hair styling and turn it into something that is a bit more outside of the box.” And her crown jewel? A labor-extensive play on the iconic Louis Vuitton barrel bag, purchased by pop superstar Rihanna. “That one took me, like, over a month, on and off,” says Akhuetie, who also runs a braiding service-turned-creative agency called Keash. She declines to divulge specifics on her intricate and time-consuming construction techniques.