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A New Twist

Under Hiddekel Burks learned hands, it's almost impossible to have a bad hair day.

This talented hair braider from Chicago has been perfecting her craft over decades, emphasizing the cultural heritage of her age-old art in the hopes that she can help African Americans "accept their beauty."

But Burks' braiding isn't just about reflecting identity – her creations possess a beauty all their own and have been featured in the Museum of Science and Industry's annual Black Creativity exhibit.

And there's always room for a bit of fun. In 1990, Burks tried her hand at setting a Guinness world record by making a 2,000 foot braid.

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Learn about just a few of the other Illinois artists who have received help from the Illinios Arts Council to pass on their skills to the next generation: fish-basket trap maker Earl Edlin, split-wood basket maker Joseph Peters, fiber artist Ann Coddington Rast, hammered dulcimer player Bill Robinson and Wycinanki artist Doris Sikorsky.

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Delve into the long and winding history of hair braiding with Hiddekel Burks.


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A portrait of Hiddekel S. Burks.

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Burks braids traditional cornrows for a visitor.

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A young customer sports braids... and beads.

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One of Burks original masks which features her exquisite braiding.


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