Food & Drink

Full Extension: Tariqa Waters’ Personal Art & Style

In arts and in fashion, Tariqa Waters is unapologetically herself

By Jennifer McCullum May 16, 2016

A woman wearing a red shirt and denim shorts.

This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Seattle magazine.

Hair Raising
Ask artist and Martyr Sauce gallery owner Tariqa Waters about her morning dressing routine and she’ll tell you it starts from the top. “My hair changes up everything,” she says. “When it’s in a ’fro, I like to soften things up a bit with my outfit. Go really clean-cut. But with braids, I can go across the board because I can shape and sculpt them.” Taking shape this month at the Northwest African American Museum is Waters’ pop art narrative exhibit “100% Kanekalon—The Untold Story of the Marginalized Matriarch” (the title refers to the brand of synthetic hair extensions), which further explores the traditions of African-American beauty. “It’s style inspired from where I grew up in Richmond, Virginia,” says Waters. “Crazy long nails, hair extensions…it’s all about how you change up your look and have fun.”

In the Family
While Waters cites Diahann Carroll and Solange Knowles as inspiration for her personal style, her family contributes to her collective fashion sense as well. “We all kind of wear each other’s clothes,” she says of husband Ryan, 11-year-old daughter Kaelau, and 14-year-old son named 9 (the numeral, not the spelling, appears on his birth certificate). “I’ll take things from my husband’s closet, but then I can share clothes now with Kaelau since she’s eye to eye with me. Even my son. I’ll get a dress from Goodwill, and if he thinks it’s a cool silhouette, he’ll be like ‘I can rock that’ and throw some jeans on under it.”  


Lips: Maybelline Color 
Sensational Creamy Matte 
Lipstick in Craving Coral 
(available at Target;

Summer in the City
As warmer weather returns to Seattle, expect to see Waters sitting on her stoop outside her Washington Street gallery in Pioneer Square sporting statement sunglasses, high heels, cutoff jeans and a swipe of bold lipstick. “I feel like I’m on another planet here and I like to exist in that,” Waters says about her signature style, which she describes as goofy, cool and “a little ratchet.” “What I’m representing, you typically wouldn’t see in Seattle, so I like to exaggerate certain things, to kind of bring that excitement and that sunshine.”

Get the Look
Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte Lipstick in Craving Coral (available at Target;
Shirt: Ship ‘n Shore Collectibles (Bon Voyage Vintage, Pioneer Square, 110 S Washington St.; 206.412.7669)
Chain link bracelet Waters’ “engagement ring” from her husband. “He had it ever since he was 16 and never took it off,” she says.
Jeans: Lambada (Bon Voyage Vintage, Pioneer Square)
Shoes: BCBGMAXAZRIA (Nordstrom, downtown, 500 Pine St.; 206.628.2111;

Follow Us

15 Valentine’s Day Gifts

15 Valentine’s Day Gifts

Fleece slippers, chocolate figs, and The Book of Love

Who doesn’t want to celebrate love and make someone (anyone!) feel special? So, whether you’re all in or not so much, if you’re looking for gift ideas, here are a few to consider...

The Best Gifts for Travel Lovers 

The Best Gifts for Travel Lovers 

Tinsel, eggnog, mistletoe, and luggage

Travel lovers are the easiest people to buy for. Wrap a gift in old maps and they’ll spend hours deciphering the roadways and important coordinates. Put something inside the wrapping that will satiate their wanderlust, or encourage it, and you might be their next invitee to Paris.

Black Black Friday launches in Seattle

Black Black Friday launches in Seattle

The event is designed to boost Black-owned businesses

An initiative launched in Seattle encourages residents to spend money at Black-owned businesses, starting on Black Friday. Called Black Black Friday, the movement was organized by Laura Clise, founder and CEO of the Intentionalist, an online directory of thousands of small businesses owned by women, people of color, veterans, LBGTQ+, families, and differently abled people,…

Costco Goes for the Gold

Costco Goes for the Gold

Have a sudden need for gold bars? Better act fast.

The warehouse retailer known for everything from its popular food court to organic maple syrup and bulk, well, everything, is now in the business of selling gold. That’s right. Costco is peddling one-ounce gold bars online. But you have to be a member to buy them. And they’re not cheap. Shoppers have two options: One…