A Modern Hair Study
September 27 - November 17, 2013
Opening reception: Friday, September 27, 6-9pm.
Gallery Night: Friday, October 18
Fop and Hounds Salon: Thursday, October 24, 6-8pm. Hosts Jon Horvath and his dog, Waffle.
A Modern Hair Study: Tara Bogart
Hair: Demitra Copoulos
Adornment: Nicholas Grider
A Modern Hair Study
In many cultures, the imagined sexual allure of female hair requires that it be hidden from public view. Orthodox Jewish women, for example, traditionally wear headscarves or wigs. Catholic nuns and Muslim women also cover their hair.
If Wisconsin-based artist Tara Bogart’s A Modern Hair Study is evidence, then it is true: the expressive qualities of hair are potent. But in this series of oval-shaped images of the backs of young women’s heads and naked shoulders, it is not only the tender and seductive elements of hair that are revealed, but a much broader palette of mood, self-definition and emotional states. Disheveled or dyed, pinned or pony-tailed, clipped or overgrown, each image encapsulates how identity is truly a dance of willful self-styling in sync with rogue acts of nature. The tender contrasts of hair and pale skin against neutral backgrounds render these studies as almost precious documents of pedestrian beauty. Like pressed butterflies, the images index the infinite gestures of human individuality within the fleeting blossom of youth.
Bogart started this series in 2011 after seeing an image of the back of a woman’s head by the French photographer Felix Nadar (1820-1910). She then started photographing young women, mostly art students from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, where she works. Although this series has done remarkably well with shows in New York, LA and San Francisco, the body of work has not been shown locally. This summer, Bogart spent an additional month in Paris where she photographed a new companion body of work using French female subjects.
Bogart says, “In these intimate portraits I am a voyeur concentrating on a generation that is not mine. While certain ideals are often relevant to different generations, the ways in which women adorn and modify themselves often indicates the struggles of a young adult with their own ideology and individuality.”
A companion exhibition, Hair, by Demitra Copoulos, presents sculptures of exaggerated hairstyles. Most of the work is first fashioned from clay and then finished with a surface coat or cast in different materials. Because clay can be braided, rolled, shaped, flattened or curled, it aligns well with a formal exploration of hair. Copoulos, a mid-career sculptor in Milwaukee, is known for her ambitious and often eccentric figurative projects that morph into distorted, contorted shapes. Along with her hair studies, she has recently been sculpting portrait busts.
One room of the gallery will be filled with three larger than life plastic sculptures of hair, a cast aluminum tress, several clay forms and a carved, wooden mullet. Copoulos said she is intrigued by how the styling of our hair offers such nuanced insights into historical periods, cultural values, power structures, gender identities and the random absurdities of civilization.
A third project, Adornment, presents Nicholas Grider’s series of self-portraits that show his head tied with different materials. He says, “The work in Adornment comes from wondering about the line where decoration stops being decoration and starts to serve another purpose, in this case to obscure or possibly even muzzle and blindfold a human head.” Decoration is often thought of as something entirely innocent, but Grider is interested in what impulses fall behind the need to decorate or adorn something or someone and the extremes to which those impulses can lead.
Review, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mary Louise Schumacher