Liliana Angulo

Be Still, Hair!

About the project
Jorge Panchoaga
Kalabongó (Firefly)

Liliana Angulo, Colombia

A collective project about traditional hairstyles and haircare in communities of African descent

When slavery existed in Colombia, fugitive slaves used hairdos as maps of escape routes. Braids and other designs were employed as secret codes. The braid style known as tropas (troops) was used to point out that the escape route was by land, while the one known as espina de pescado (fishbone) indicated that the escape route was by sea. Some other styles signified risky or dangerous routes. As sucedidos (events) were braided, the residents of a community found out what was going on at the local mine or plantation, as well as what they had to do in order to escape. People kept seeds and gold in their hair to survive after they had reached freedom.

The knowledge of hairstyling and haircare is part of the cultural heritage of African descendants: a legacy of struggles for land and for the creativity, imagination and self-determination of black women and black communities. It is both a collective cultural tradition and a pragmatic instrument of resilience, activism, and political resistance for black communities.

By setting up situations where people meet each other, Be Still, Hair! seeks to contribute to the transmission of oral traditions, memory and practices associated with hairstyling. It documents performative practices as well as techniques, histories and cultural expressions related to hairstyling and hair-care.


Be Still, Hair! attempts to lend visibility to the experience of contemporary, self-taught hairstylists from communities of African descent in various regions of the Americas, revealing how physical appearance is used as an important element in the day-to-day struggles of black women for their identity, territory, and lives.

Participating hairstylists in Quibdó:

Daily Johanna Ibargüen Palacios, Irene Rivas, Diana Sánchez Ibargüen “Manzana,” Disney Chaverra, Yensy Milena Rentería Valoyes, Deirath Cuesta Valencia Chaverra, Sandra Johanna Moya Mosquera, Anni Jennifer Mosquera “Juanita,” Sonia Arroyo Lara, Jorlenis Ramírez Moreno, Inefina Palacios Mena, Yanny Samira Hernández Mosquera.

Participating hairstylists in Buenaventura:

Lucina Valencia Herrera, Antonia Olave, Karina Mosquera Rodríguez, Yuri Vanessa Barco Camacho, Vicky Tatiana Valencia Rodríguez, Delly Briggite Riascos Mosquera, Yuri Aceneth Castillo Venté, Ingrid Tatiana Palacio Mosquera, Mercy Yolanda Tovar Cuero, Gladis Johanna Caicedo, Ana Ruby Micolta Solís, Yamile Milena González, Olayne Rentería Castillo, Marisela Cuero López, Diana Yulermi Rentería, Diana Marcela Mosquera Gamboa, Anyela Gissell García, Karen Lishe Casivo, Marta Anacelly Cadena, Carolina Cuero.

Participating hairstylists in Isla de San Andrés:

Suleima Fiquiare D., Johana Stephens, Elodia Xiomara Brock, Guadalupe Pérez, Mercedes Ruíz, Erika Arrieta, Derlie Dawkins, Iris del Carmen Simancas Pérez.

(b. 1974) Bogotá, Colombia

In her artistic work, Liliana Angulo explores the notion of the body and the image from a perspective of gender, ethnicity, language, history, and politics. As an Afrodescendant, she has dealt with issues of representation and identity and with discourses of race and power, even as she questions the stereotypes constructed around women, whose role she seeks to champion. In 2012 she received a Fulbright-García Robles Scholarship. She participated in the Rencontres d’Arles in 2017, the Encuentro Internacional Medellín in 2007, and the 9th edition of the Bienal de Arte de Bogotá in 2006. In her solo exhibition Observing Whiteness: A Pop-up Exhibit, presented at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture of the University of Chicago in 2018, Angulo reflects on the construction of race and representation in the urban space.