I want to use this post to sort through my thoughts relating to the concept behind Kanekalon, number one and Kanekalon, number sixty aka my thesis works. Every now and again, I go back and forth on what my art is suppose to be about. Sometimes I can’t figure out which idea or message is the most important, what should come first, or if the works are even communicating what I want them to.
I am creating two wall installation works of art. With these pieces, what I am investigating is the spaces between fine art and fashion designing, bringing two disciplines together to create a work of art, while still having the reflection on my experiences guide me conceptually. One of the final product will be one body of work made from wearable garments and items. Observe the mock-up below in the following image.
As mentioned in a post back in September, I had fear on my mind. I frequently thought of death, dying, getting hurt, and enduring pain. Although I was happy, I felt like dark things were trying taking over my mind. I was becoming a mother, and I had a lot of worry pertaining to what life was going be like for my daughter. Also around that time, my mother had just moved in with us, and she shared lots of stories and some of her upsetting experiences with me. For example, she told me about an incident where my brother Leo ( who has severe mental disabilities) was in the hospital, the nurses and doctor would totally ignore her when she would give them advice on how to handle my brother. They treated her like she’s invisible, she said. Which resulted in my brother freaking out and not receiving his treatment at that time. She had get very angry and request another physician that would work with her on handling Leo. I felt so bad for her. Some of the stories either made me want to cry, and other would send me in a rage. Days after, the stories and emotions were on my mind. I couldn’t help but to be terrified of the hardships that may come my daughter that are because of her identity. In those moments, I wanted her to blend in. Be like most, and treated like most. And I wanted the same thing for myself..
Later on, after doing some research, I read an article written by Melissa Burkely PhD, for Psychology Today that suggested that black women were the most invisible demographic in America. ” I mean invisible in a sociocultural way. That is, Black women are more likely than other racial/gender groups to go unnoticed or unheard”.
After learning this and feeling what I felt, I had an opportunity to draw inspiration from two different but similarly important perspectives (wanting to blend in & not being noticed). I had settled on expressing ideas around things blending in with its environment, how things may go unnoticed, and things that were invisible at some point. All having to with the idea of not being seen.
I chose color on color. Black on Black…maybe White on White. That is where my color concept came from. I know the question of why Black or why White will come about. So yes, I have my reasons and will later be explained.
So, when I was searching for a material or textile that can represent me, I landed on hair…A certain kind of hair. I wanted to include this inexpensive artificial hair that myself and other women in my family had used to style our hair with for years, 100% Kanekalon braiding hair. I have created many stunning, and labor intensive hairdos with this hair. Yes, I’ve done styles that required more than 13 hours of braiding; only stopping for quick meals and bathroom breaks. I can put braid extensions in my own hair, something many can’t do. (bragging rights) The point is, this hair is extremely versatile for shaping and sculpting! Not to mention, hair is very important to me and to many women who look like me. Hair and hair maintenance lives on a pedestal to us, many times hair is more important than our clothing. Other times, it is part of our clothing/ attire. So when the idea to include the fake hair came to me, I ran with it. I felt like it absolutely was meant to be.
Since the hair is very reflective, I decided to use matte or low reflection type fabrics. Garments are made with matte wool fabric so that light is absorbed. Then, they’re finished with raw cut edges, so there are so extra competing lines which may distract from the braided fibers. As for the hair also treat in the same manner is if it were to be used for hairstyling, paying homage to my inspiration. Other materials include, weave thread, neoprene, foam heads, wire, hot water, and hair glue.
My classmates and instructors introduced me to some artists that they believed was important to look at. Here are a few artists that I looked to for inspiration…
Joanne Petit-Frere was the first art I was introduced to that mastered some techniques that was using in my work. She is a master at hair sculpting. When I saw her work I was intimidated by how high she had set the bar.
Louise Nevelson, another master sculpting in her own way. I look to Nevelson for her brilliant color on color methods.
This last artist, I just recently learned about (about a week ago from this day). Nonetheless, I am deeply inspired by Robert Morris’ draped fabric art installation. I love how he has a keen eye for simplicity and drama. He is very smart about letting the fabric drape or fall in the most interesting ways… In very natural ways at that.
Here is another piece by Morris, just cause I like them so much.
*Sorting through my concept to be continued…