At first glance, it looks like these embroideries by artist Sula Fay pair thread with your average stitching techniques to depict body parts, words, and ancient sculptures on circular vintage Victorian-era doilies. That fact alone makes them unconventional in the traditional sense of the craft. But, the artist adds one more special touch to make these works all her own – strands of her hair. Fay threads a needle with her locks and passes it through the aged fabric. She describes her reasons and process:
As an adolescent, I struggled with my hair. Being of half African and Puerto Rican descent I inherited very naturally curly hair. Alongside my white skinned, long straight haired friends, I felt different and unattractive. I went through many gruelling hours brushing, combing, and straightening. That process was very difficult and tedious, just like the process of my embroideries. To embroider with my hair I have to straighten each piece separately. (Via Booooooom)
Believe it or not, the tiniest comic strip in history has recently been drawn onto a single stand of human hair. The comic, titled “Juana Knits the Planet,” was initially mapped by the artist Claudia Puhlfürst; later, it was burned into a plucked stand with an ion beam, which is in essence a delicate and thin version of a laser beam. The narrative follows a girl (Juana) through twelve twenty-five micrometer frames, and the artwork is a promotion for a Do-It-Yourself conference in Hamburg, Germany called the Exceptional Hardware Software Meeting.
Purfürst’s illustration is a touching wordless story about about a lonesome little girl who seems to exist within a vacuum of a blank comic book frame; that is, until a ball of yarn rolls to her feet. From the thread, she creates a paintbrush, painting trees and music into existence. Ultimately, Juana writes code and builds herself her very first friend: an adorable robot. This parable of human growth and ingenuity is made all the more delightful for being engraved onto a strand of hair; the story of technological expansion returns, ultimately, to the human head, the site of its conception.
In this video, we can discover the astounding scale of the little comic. Strands of human hair are composed of hard proteins; the outer layer, or the cuticle, contains scales that form curves and ridges, and yet the frames of “Juana Knits the Planet” are perfectly straight and meticulously rendered. It’s pretty mind-blowing; take a look. (via HuffPost and Lost at E Minor)
Imagine a ring encrusted with finely sterilized teeth—or chunks of imported hair— and you have the work of jewelry designer Polly van der Glas. To the artist, these works of wearable art aim to address notions of beauty; as part of the overall gestalt of the human form, hair and teeth are signifiers of vitality and virility, but when ripped from the gums or snipped from the scalp, they become morbid, reminding us of the fragility of youth, beauty, and the body.
Van der Glas’s pieces speak to the allure of all jewelry. The ring itself carries iconographic weight; the idea of the wedding engagement ring—and even a promise ring— pivots around its circular shape, which serves as a vaginal symbol as well as one of eternity. The magic of van der Glas’s work lies in this tension between the sensuality and permanence of precious metal jewelry and the morbidity and temporality evoked by the deconstruction of the body.
Somehow, though, the work is not entirely grotesque. The careful treatment perfectly rounded teeth is reminiscent of a child’s play with the tooth fairy fantasy; shining locks harken back to romance tales in which locks of hair are gifted as promises to forbidden lovers. In this way, the work is playful and young, but set within metallic frames and coated with dark metal, that innocence veers into a dangerous realm, reminiscent of violent helmeted warfare. As it turns from gentle to wicked, from everlasting to painfully mortal, each piece invites us to examine and grasp onto the most precious and poignant treasures of our own jewelry boxes. (via Oddity Central, Ecouterre, and Gold Delicatessen)
Designer Monique Goossens transforms the hair left behind on the garbage, shower drain and/or combs into a work of typography.
Monique Goossens’ work includes elements of both design and organic art. The concept is disturbing yet brilliant, and design has never seen something quite like this before. Although her idea challenges established conceptions of function [and aesthetics], her work doesn’t stray away from the bizarre and amusing.
“The hair letters consist of hundreds of hairs, and give the impression of being fine pen drawings. The basic shape of the letters is created by forming the hairs into a legible character, during which process I follow the natural characteristics of the hairs: curly, rounded corners, springiness. To a great extent, it is the dynamic of the hairs which determines the shape of the letters. The ends of the hairs create an organized chaos, an energetic play of lines which forms a haze around the letter’s basic shape.”
The Amsterdam based artist studied Interior Design and Styling at Academie Artemis. Shortly after, she became interested in the relationship between photography and design, so she continued her studies at the Design Academy in Eindhoven.
Photographer Endia Beal has created corporate-style portraits of white women with hairstyles often worn by black women for her series, “Can I Touch It?”. Beal was first inspired to do this project after interning in the IT department at Yale while she was there earning her M.F.A. At the time, Beal, who is tall and black, was sporting a large red afro. She stood out among her mostly shorter, white male colleagues, and one even mentioned to her that a rumor was circulating around the office that the men were curious about her hair and wanted to touch it. She eventually asked some of her male colleagues to touch her hair, and even pull it. A week later, she recorded their reactions. She wanted the men to experience something new, and they were admittedly uncomfortable.
She next sought out middle-aged women who work in the corporate world for “Can I Touch It?”. “I wanted people that had a certain idea of what you’re supposed to look like in the workspace, because it would be a challenge for them to understand what I experienced in that space…And to a degree, many young white women have shared that experience, but for older white women it’s an experience they haven’t necessarily had.”
“I said, ‘I am going to give you a black hairstyle,’ and they were like, ‘You’re going to give me cornrows?’ ” Beal recalls. “And I said, ‘No, we’re going to do finger waves.’ ‘Finger waves? What’s that? You mean from the ’20s?’ And I said, ‘These are a little bit different type of finger waves!’ ”
She says the women were excited to learn something new and to show off their hairstyles. Through this project, Beal hopes to start a conversation among people who come from various gender, race, and generational backgrounds, especially within the rigidity of a corporate environment. She is currently in North Carolina continuing this project, and is considering having the women enter and work at their offices with these new styles, after which she would record their experiences. (via slate)
Artist Brittany Schall created incredibly detailed drawings for her series Hair Studies. The mixed media pieces are certainly portraits but are decidedly missing faces. Instead she focuses entirely on each subject’s hair. The flowing masses nearly seem to suggest a mesmerizing movement. Locks tumble like smoke or water and imply the underlying form. Each subject’s hair carries a seeming personality of its own, a portrait of sorts in its own right.
Sculptor Loren Schwerd documents the wreckage hurricane Katrina left behind by building artwork from it in her series Mourning Portrait. While in New Orleans shortly after the storm Schwerd came upon the flooded St. Claude Beauty Supply shop, much of its inventory spilling out on to the sidewalk. She uses the human hair extension she picked up off the curb to build what she calls “commemorative objects”. Each piece is a “portrait” of a building in various stages of deterioration. The images of dilapidated homes give an indication of the massive amounts of damage from the storm while the hair alludes to the human loss. Schwerd explains her use of the human hair extensions in her work this way:
“The portraits draw on the nineteenth-century tradition of hairwork, in which family members or artisans would fashion the hair of the deceased into intricate jewelry and other objects as symbols of death and rebirth and remembrance.”
Winnie Truong’s drawings are at once intricate, interesting, and funny. Fittingly, she has a lot of people recognizing her talent. Not only is she featured with big beautiful drawings and an interview in our Book 7 humor issue, she has a show at Galerie Trois Points from now until November 10. So, if you’re a fan, i’d suggest an impulsive Montreal vacation and picking up our Book 7 for plane reading. Happy travels!