ATU’s Gilbert Contributes to Study of Black Hair

Dr. Lynnette Gilbert
Dr. Lynnette Gilbert

Dr. Lynnette M. Gilbert, assistant professor of art education at Arkansas Tech University, is co-author of an article entitled “Black Hair as Metaphor Explored through Duoethnography and Arts-Based Research” that has been published in the Journal of Folklore and Education.

Gilbert and Dr. Kathy J. Brown, assistant professor of art education at the University of North Texas, co-wrote the piece after making a related virtual presentation at the 2021 National Art Education Association Annual Convention. It is published in a special issue of the journal entitled “Creative Texts | Creative Traditions.”

In the article, Gilbert and Brown explore the history and societal implications of hairstyle choices among women of color, share their personal experiences as Black women and detail how Black hair has been expressed and represented by female artists.

According to the introduction written by Gilbert and Brown, the study seeks to “unpack the complexities of Black women’s hair stories as positional metaphors” in an effort to explore how Black hair influences “identity/respectability politics, positionality, rites of passage, liminality and selfhood.”

The study is accompanied by a culturally responsive visual art lesson that is adaptable for students in grades 7-12.

Access the article at

Gilbert and Brown met when they were doctoral students at the University of Houston. The former invited the latter to speak at the 2021 Windgate Summer Art Launch for Arkansas Educators, an annual professional development program for K-12 art teachers. Founded in 2018, the program is made possible through a grant from the Windgate Foundation and is hosted by Arkansas Tech.

Summer Bruch, head of the ATU Department of Art, said the Windgate Summer Art Launch for Arkansas Educators is one of several examples of how private support from the Windgate Foundation has forged lasting, meaningful professional collaborations at Arkansas Tech.

Financial contributions from the Windgate Foundation also allow ATU to provide an artist in residence program.

Manami Ishimura became Arkansas Tech’s first artist in residence in spring 2019 and completed the sculpture “Tsumiki” that is on permanent display at ATU. She has remained with the university and is a visiting instructor of art.

Tiffany Black was artist in residence at ATU in spring 2020 and she continues to teach courses at Arkansas Tech as an adjunct faculty member. Black’s artwork is on display on the ATU campus, in the Russellville community and in the terrazzo flooring at Clinton National Airport in Little Rock.

The ATU artist in residence program is continuing in fall 2021 with Jade Hoyer, assistant professor of art at Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colo., serving in that capacity.

Learn more about the ATU Department of Art at