Loren Schwerd’s Sculptures Made Out of Hair

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.”