Tiff Massey <em>I got bundles and flewed out</em> 2019, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Purchased, NGV Foundation, 2023<br/>
© 2019 Tiff Massey. All rights reserved

Tiff Massey

Photo: Corey Johnson

Tiff Massey
United States born 1982

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NGV International
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Challenging the capitalist colonisation of Black beauty and identity, Tiff Massey rejects the Eurocentric aesthetics in advertising aimed at Black women. Each of these twenty-two traditionally Black hairstyles is a testament to the cultural significance of Black hair, an emblem of resistance and resilience. Massey’s tableau unfolds against a backdrop image of a salon, teeming with white mannequins – a reminder of the beauty industry’s pervasive use of Caucasian models to peddle products for Black women. I got bundles and flewed out is a critique of marketing strategies that surreptitiously invalidate the Black aesthetic in favour of a Eurocentric ideal. It asks the viewer to grapple with the uncomfortable truth of the pervasive racial bias inherent in our society’s beauty norms.

Drawing from 1980s hip-hop culture and her Detroit background, Tiff Massey uses adornment to examine the African diaspora and contemporary issues of race, class and popular culture. Her sculptural works address notions of self-identity, community and of being part of a place and group. Massey was the first Black woman to earn an MFA in metalsmithing from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in the US and internationally and has garnered her multiple awards, including a United States Artists Fellowship (2021), the Art Jewelry Forum Susan Beech Mid- Career Artist Grant (2019), and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge (two-time winner).

Purchased, NGV Foundation, 2023