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Going Naptural

September 13, 2018

Students participate in a Natural Hair Symposium led by UMD’s Terresa Moses and Sandra Oyinloye.

Two UMD colleagues have taken their shared passion for natural hair to create Project Naptural's 2018 Natural Hair Symposium. Terresa Moses is an assistant professor of graphic design at UMD's School of Fine Arts and Sandra Oyinloye is the mentor and engagement program coordinator in UMD’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion. As their Project Naptural website states, this fall, in a three-session event, they are aiming to “empower black women to wear and love their nappy, kinky, and curly hair.”

 Vaughnetta Ngaling next to the art that matches her hairstyle.

Left photo: Terresa Moses and Sandra Oyinloye. Right photo: Vaughnetta Ngaling next to the art that matches her hairstyle.

Terresa says, “The project involves academically supported cultural research, but greater than that, it serves to support black women and their beautiful natural hair.”

Sandra, who worked with Duluth youth after she graduated from UMD, agrees, “Young women are affected by what they see. They are constantly told that they’re not beautiful and that their hair is not good.”

Sandra knows from experience. “I used to perm my hair, and I did sew-ins all the time. I never just let my hair breathe,” she says. Now, with her experience working with natural hair, she helps style the hair for the events in the symposium.

 Veronica Swen.

Left Photo: Olivia Osei-tutu and Elizabeth Rypa. Right photo: Veronica Swen.

Karachi Ugwu, a junior industrial engineering major, who was a hair model at the symposium, has a similar story, "For as long as I can remember, my mother took me to a salon to relax and texturize my hair. The year I graduated from high school, I decided to cut my hair and let it grow without adding chemicals. Ever since then, I've been learning to take better care of my natural hair."

Vaughnetta Ngaling, a senior biology major with a Hispanic studies minor, was a model in the fashion show at the first Project Naptural event. “I went natural about six years ago,” she says. “Previously, I used lye products to make my hair straight but it got damaged and dry. Now I love my hair because I can do so many things with it. It can be hard to maintain sometimes, but I think it’s worth it. It is unique.”

Where it Began

Terresa Moses started her graduate degree program and explored natural hair through a thesis project. She was inspired by her own natural hair journey and the social implications that come with being a black woman with natural hair.

Terresa and Sandra teamed up in 2017 to expand Project Naptural into a project that held meaning and importance for both of them. They had to brainstorm to create a project that would be both academically effective and accomplish their goals. Thus the 2018 Natural Hair Workshop and Symposium was born. The free educational art show includes Terresa’s natural hair artwork along with styling demos with hair models, guest speakers, and presentations on the historical context of natural hair.

Upcoming Events

Project Naptural Hair Symposium is held at the Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center at the American Indian Community Housing Organization on Saturday, September 15 and Saturday September 29 from 3-6 pm. Individuals that attend will receive a swag bag with full size hair products.

The September 15 showing will include a history of natural hair presentation and hair styling workshops and the September 29 show will have a natural hair panel with guest speakers and hair product workshops. See

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