How many times a day do you think about your hair? Do you spend a lot of time with grooming? We all know that having a clean, shiny, full head of hair is preferable over dirty, greasy, limp hair. Clean hair is more attractive and healthier overall. However, no matter what you do with it, your hair is just hair. When we find hair in our food, our in our mouths, it disgusts us. What is so disgusting about the hair that falls from your own head? It is just as dead as the hair left on our scalp.
People throughout time have used their hair as a status symbol, or to adhere to certain beliefs within their cultures or times. Remember the flappers of the 1920s? They chopped their hair to protest the traditional roles of women. The long haired hippies of the 60s went the opposite direction. Mohawks make quite the impression, as do many other ‘out there’ hair styles.
With the many possibilities that hair offers the wearer, is it any wonder that rebellious artists are using hair as their medium?
* Bill Fink is the creator of ‘Time and Matter’ photographs, in which he uses the hair of a subject to create a photograph of that subject. He says that using their own hair extends the photograph to a new dimension. Fink also using hair in nature pictures, while often turning to natural materials for others. His photographs are amazing.
* Wenda Gu, a conceptual artist born in China, has spent years working primarily with hair. In 2007, in conjunction with Dartmouth University’s Hood Museum of Art, Gu collected 430 pounds of hair after giving free haircuts to the students, faculty and staff. He used all the hair to create two works of art that are displayed in the school.
* At the Evergold Gallery in San Francisco is an art piece created with synthetic hair. Artist Adam Parker Smith titled his solo exhibition “Crush”. Although created with synthetic hair, it still looks and works like real hair.
* Japanese artist Nagi Noda loves using the hair on the head as her medium and canvas. Noda is best known for her amazingly realistic animal ‘hair hats’.
* A Chengdu artist named Zhang DeXuan creates some amazing portraits using human hair. Each tiny portrait may only contain a few hundred strands of hair, but, Zhang may have gone through 10,000 strands to find just one perfect one. The process of making portraits the size of a fingernail requires patience and concentration. Many times Zhang holds his breath so that he doesn’t break the hair he is working with. He spends as much as two months working on weaving one tiny portrait. He has done Mona Lisa, Jackie Chan, and President Obama, just to name a few.
* The Hong Kong Museum has this wonderful display by artist Leung Mee-ping. These shoes are hand-woven from hair the artist collected from people across the globe.
* Adrienne Antonson creates realistic – and some not so realistic – insects out of the hair she collects from family and friends. This makes her feel more connected to her works. Her insects are created using just hair and glue and are so realistic that you swear some are going to get up and fly away.
* Rosemary Meza enjoys using her own hair instead of pen or brush to create her strange line drawings. Her work is a series of contrasts, all related to the many parts that make up the human being – from body and soul, good and bad, to love and death. Hair is her medium and although she uses it as a brush, she might sew tiny strands together to create her art.