Friday, May 15, 2009

'Hair on Fire' exhibition

I attended the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art 'Hair on Fire' exhibition opening last night. As the title suggested, everything in the exhibit dealt with hair or 'hair' like fiber. Three artists in particular struck a chord, Sonya Clark, Loren Schwerd and Althea Murphy-Price.

Sonya's pearl necklace, made from her own hair, was as stunning in its conception as 'Pearl of Mother' was empathetic. The small hand, once again made from her own hair, held a ball of her mothers silver hair. I had a chance to engage Sonya afterwards at a membership party hosted by Pete and Connie Wyrick (Thanks!) and was schooled on the intricacies of hair 'felting' and 'scales'.

Loren's work centered on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A resident of New Orleans, Loren walked the streets after the water receeded and collected hair weaves and wigs from amidst the debris which were then used to fill in wire framed recreations of the devasted structures. Photos of the actual homes recreated in hair and wire were placed on the labels and immediately made you question whom used to live there.

Althea's intricately woven synthetic structures are reminiscent of delicate natural occurences. 'Mother Pearl's' textural quality (as well as the repeated nomenclature 'pearl') reminded me of Sonya's work. I didn't get a chance to ask her if the hair used to create the decorative cap was harvested from her mother.

Whether you view art to sift the psyche of the artist and glean intent in an effort to determine how effective the artist applied his/her trade, or if you simply want to sit back and be entertained by the stupefying concepts these artists used to execute their ideas, this was one of those rare exhibitions that holds something for everyone.

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