This series of portraiture explores how hair performs as a signifier for aspects of one’s identity. The hair in these portraits questions the “performance” of race, gender, sexuality, and culture within our society. Why do we shave, pluck, cut, color, or grow out our hair and how does this relate to our identity? These portraits question and respond to negative and positive societal perceptions of hair.
To achieve this I use traditional portraiture in a contemporary setting. The individuals that are drawn are aware of the gaze upon them and directly respond to it. They have control over the composition, objects, and pose in the portraits and overall how they are portrayed. Through interviews and working with the people that are drawn, I make sure their voice and not mine is the most visible factor of the piece. This voice includes why their hair is an important signifier of their identity and why. The power that those drawn have over their portraits changes the intention of these images and emphasizes the fact that the people that I draw exist outside the two dimensional realm of paper. From this relationship between the viewer and the viewed, these portraits aim to dismantle illegitimate notions of the ideal performance of hair and how it relates to the perception of identity.
Because of this, it is important to understand how our perception of identity contributes to our actions based on harmful ideologies during a climate of increased oppression, discrimination, and dehumanization in our society’s rhetoric.