"Useless Utility" 2019
The hair straightening device, also referred to as the “hot comb,” exists traditionally as a metal comb with a wooden handle that is heated on the stove–combed through the hair. Between a Comb and a Rough Place, is a reproduction of standard hot-combs through porcelain mold. Buie created this piece as a direct correlation to the fragility, preciousness, endurance, and the time-consuming process of Black hair care. Originating in France in the 18th century and later redesigned by Madam C.J. Walker, the first African-American millionaire, who widened the space of the teeth of the comb for thicker tresses. The use of the straightening comb is emblematic of the confrontation between women of the African diaspora, the codes of Eurocentric feminine beauty, and the struggle to accept the hair in its purest form. Although the “hot comb” is not as widely used today in most homes however, it remains an iconic representation of generational Black womanhood and kitchen as a site of intimacy.