Sunday, August 4, 2013


Hair is our extended nervous system connected to our brains letting us feel the wind on our scalps. It warns us of danger when the follicles raise their thin flags. Our hair is our fiber nest for our egg of thoughts, keeping it warm, decorating our mantle and blowing in the breezes of our movements.  It continues growing when we are cold and gone. It collects in our bath drains, It carries our DNA signature and guides forensic specialists to the scene of our crimes.

Himba Girl, Kunene, Namibia - photo by Daniella TT

Materials within our reach has worked into the lexicon of artists for centuries. Starting from our nomadic beginnings we adorned, decorated and marked our bodies using whatever was readily available. Because of the wandering tribal roots we created our identities with metals culled from rock and fire, from ground powdered color, carbon and needle tattoos and matted, beaded and braided hair. Our artful bodies told of our tribal affiliation, family structure and reflected the deep connections with our surrounding world.

Our hair has worked itself into the current social fabric as well. In our language the references to hair collect like hairballs in the corners of our rooms. A difficult and scratchy endeavor is “wearing a hair shirt”. We have our “bad hair day”, we seek our targets “in the cross hairs”, points of contentions are “splitting hairs”, a close call is “within a hair’s breath”.

Here are some selected artist’s and their works that feature a very small media….made from human hair.

Chrystl Rijkeboer 





Since 1998 Chrystl Rijkeboer has been using human hair as a working material. Out of curiosity
and by experimenting with unorthodox materials she came across this medium. Responses from viewers made her aware of the impact of hair and the emotional charge  it contributes to her work. From this the two major themes of work 'Memory and Identity' arose.

'Hair' contains memories. Everyone knows the lock of hair kept in a medallion or a braid that is kept in an envelope for years lying in a drawer, memories of our childhood or a lost love. They keep the past tangible. Everything perishes except for our hair. By a lock of hair you can literally touch the past.

Our hairstyles emphasize our identity. They can say a lot about ‘who’ we are, and show our age and health. Prescribed hairstyles or covering of hair can be a religious statement. With our hair we show to which ‘group’ we belong or want to belong.

Rijkeboer works mostly thematically and uses recurring elements including human- and girl figures, birdhouses, ladders, masks, birds and wolves. These are recognizable images which illustrate stories about family ties, the living environment and personal experiences. The work is figurative, but form and proportions are subordinated. What matters are the sensations evoked. You can always view the work in two ways: kind, pleasant and innocent. But also the opposite: frightening, condemning and guilty. This ambiguity repeats itself in all her artworks.

Chrystl uses many craft-based techniques with hair. First she started to felt it, and later she spun it into threads, from which she crochets or knits her sculptures. She also combines ceramics with hair. Besides the 3 dimensional objects she often translates her sculptures and installations into photographs and video works.

Chrystl Rijkeboer's web site 

Melanie Bilenker

Melanie Bilenker makes broach jewelry works featuring line drawings made from her hair. The themes are simple and ordinary moments of her day captured in a line within the miniature framed works. 

"The Victorians kept lockets of hair and miniature portraits painted with ground hair and pigment to secure the memory of a lost love. In much the same way, I secure my memories through photographic images rendered in lines of my own hair, the physical remnants. I do not reproduce events, but quiet minutes, the mundane, the domestic, the ordinary moments."

Melanie Bilenker's web site

Adrienne Antonson

The extraordinary miniatures of Adreienne Antonson include the sculpting of insect forms made completely out of human hair.

"My sculptural work focuses on making life-like objects from human hair and other non-traditional fibers.  I work with human hair because of its immediacy, its beauty and flaws. As an artistic material, human hair is remarkably resourceful.  The material never fails to attract and repulse almost simultaneously, a response I enjoy. As I continue to work with hair, it encapsulates the survivalist notions I find compelling and am excited to explore."

An interview with Adrienne Atonson by Effie Bowen for Bomblog - June 10, 2013

EB What is your favorite part about working with hair?
AA People either love it or they hate it. And I enjoy that response a lot.
EB What kind of response have you gotten from someone who hated it?
AA When the insects went viral I would look at my Google analytics and started reading comments on these sites where people only write comments if they really love something or really hate it. People were writing such mean things and you can’t help but be sensitive about it. Especially me. There were comments from people who hate hair, who think hair is disgusting—unless it’s on someone’s head, they hate hair. A lot of people also hate insects and a lot of people hate them both so there were a lot of comments like, “this is the most disgusting thing,” or, “why would anyone spend their time making this disgusting filth?”
EB You’ve completely transformed the hair from what it normally looks like so while there is a “gross out” factor, you are also tricking us by not having the medium so easily discernable.
AA Yes, I love that people see the bugs and think that they are real. When I was little I loved Ripley’s. I’m totally geeking out right now being in Ripley’s Traveling Show next to a car made out of matchsticks. You can do anything with anything.
EB When you started making the bugs were you modeling them on real insects or did you make them up?
AA Well the first time I made one I just thought, Can I do this? I looked at a moth I had in my insect collection and tried to replicate it. Eventually creative and manufacturing limitations came up like, Oh his body should be bigger here, and I thought, I can really do anything I want, these aren’t for a science museum. But I do like the challenge of replicating something exactly and do it as close as possible and to hold it in my hand and for it to look real. They really become dares to myself: Can I do a praying mantis, can I do a housefly?

Adrienne Atonson's web site

Nagi Noda

Hrafnhildur Arnardottir aka “Shoplifter”

“I’ve been obsessing about a little flower made out of human hair, which came into my possession when I was 17. I found it at an antique shop in Iceland where I used to work. It had a really big impact on me that this hair came from a person who had died a long time ago. I kept it in a small box and I really cherished it. This type of flower is called a Victorian memory flower. It was very common when somebody died to take the hair and create these types of flowers on a branch with them. Often there would be a picture of the person and then the flower in a wreath around the picture. Through the elaboration with human hair, these pieces offer a far more involving and emotional memory than a picture only could provide. It is a monument, a relic of this person, because the hair is coming from the body and it doesn’t decay.
For me hair is the ultimate thread that grows from your body. Hair is such an original, creative fiber, and sometimes an art form. When it comes to our hair, we all have to squeeze out some form of creativity. Everybody has to make a statement of some sort regarding their hair: You have to make a choice if you cut it or not, simply because it grows. And if you decide to cut it, you have to go somewhere to get it cut. And then you are always anxious that it won’t be right. And then there is the drama of the loss of hair. The Nazis would shave off people’s hair as a way of humiliation. You could go on and on… It’s been fascinating to me to be able to create an artwork from this material that is already attached to a person. And I find it at simultaneously comical, romantic, silly and beautiful.

When we die our hair keeps on growing. It doesn’t make sense, but there is an element of hope in that, that things continue to grow and are being one with nature. When I came to New York I was fascinated by all the different types of hairstyles on people and how much goes into taming it. Hair becomes like a beast growing on us that has to be tamed. In Hollywood movies women let down their hair during love scenes, so opening the hair becomes a symbol for unleashing our sexuality and inner savagery. In many cultures women are wearing headscarves and burkas to hide their hair, because it is considered very intimate. Then there is the orthodox Jewish tradition of covering the woman’s hair with a wig made of someone else’s hair. The more I am investigating and using hair, the deeper I get into it. It has become a hair fetish or an obsession of sorts.”

From an interview by  Isabel Kirsch for NY Art Beat  August 2008.

Shoplifter's web site

And a little fun from the video studio of Jonathan Gurvit for Sandtander Rio entitled "Hair Conditioner....

Saturday, January 26, 2013


An artist often travels through the dream realm with open eyes, lucid thought and dream-like strides. Marc Giai-Miniet is an artist/dreamer painter, printmaker, draftsman, a collector of curious myths and symbols, explorer of the fantastical and maker of boxed tableaus from an imagination that tours the dusty corners, libraries and basements of the mind. These are empty places where unknown events took place and were left to decay from memory. Some recorded in dusty books on sagging shelves in upper story attics while leaky faucets, broken and dark basements guard the subterranean levels of the dream.

I find these works have a deep pull that draws me into the miniature corridors, up the stair cases and through the doorways to see if I can find the traces of the story left here. Marc’s impeccable detailing causes me to pause, wipe a small finger across a dusty bookshelf imagining the abandoned memory of the subconscious.

Born in 1946 in Trappes, France, Marc Giai-Miniet studied at the l’Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts, a distinguished national school of Fine Arts in Paris, France. He is currently the Secretary of the Salon de Mai, a gallery founded in Paris with the purpose of encouraging and exhibiting younger abstract artists.




"The "boxes" have appeared relatively late in my work as a painter, as a natural and necessary step, and have become an integral part, a double play. As a reminder of my teenage desire to do theater and may be even deeper yet my memories of childhood games pitched battles between figurines and electric trains installed under the family dining table. These "boxes" at the start of their production in the years 92 - 93, repeated the themes of my paintings: brainwashing scene, visit the mummies, agitation larvae and various transfusions. Small characters were cardboard cut ballet and existential irony of my painting. Over work, constructions becoming increasingly large, the characters have disappeared and books, whole libraries have taken their place in conjunction with laboratories, storage rooms, or waiting interrogation cells, stairs, Alleyways, ovens, drains or outbound docks ... I understand that the books were burned, and figured, were a painful metaphor of human life, both spirit and matter and inexorably doomed to their fate. Not only because the books can be burned, but sometimes also by the knowledge transmitted in them, we "burn", we transform while they accompany us or lead us astray ... in a vision becoming "existential."

Human thought is written partly in fundamental books claimed by both saints and by tyrants. Men show their books to the beauty of the universe but also their peremptory chasms. Fragile and ephemeral as they are, they are able to imbue our minds with the vision of happiness and the possible, of spiritual enthusiasm and hope, able also to enroll the worst horrors. Everyone will see, the whiteness of the black books sewers, a journey, a constant back and forth between the two major poles of man’s bestiality and transcendence, human frailty and divinely inaccessible".
Giai-Marc Miniet.

Marc Giai-Miniet, photo by Sylvie Giai-Miniet











THE DROP ROOM - detail

 FURNACE - detail


Marc Giai-Miniet in his studio

 You can see more of Marc Gai-Miniet’s works at his web site