What's in a Hair?

I was recently looking through old family photos with my aunt and she remarked that it didn't even look like me with out bright colored hair.

I completely agree. But more that I know I feel the most like myself when my hair is as vibrant as possible.

Terry Palmer, Master Hair Designer, (click for link)

Cincinnati OH, first cut my hair when I was 12 years old. From then on, no matter where in the world I lived, I planned my hair cuts around visits home so that I could get my hair cut from Terry. I have followed Terry to many locations. Once in high school, I went to get a budget cut that my mom requested, but they did such a bad job I had to go to Terry to fix it and knew I would never make that bad choice again.

I didn't give myself permission to splurge on hair color until my wedding in 2014. I gave Terry the prompt "tasteful 80s punk," and then let her get to work. She dyed a lot of the hair red, but wove a lot of other purples and greens into the red, and bleached the sides of my head (which were shaved). All night I heard: "I didn't know you were going to go red for your wedding?" and I said "Neither did I." She ended up creating an "up do" that echoed my engagement ring. It was perfect.

There was no going back now that I knew Terry was a hair painter. Only, I stopped giving her prompts. I realized that she was the expert, and I liked relinquishing my attempt at control into her genius hands. Terry has known me most of my life and so feel like in a lot of ways what she chooses to do with my hair is a reflection of how she sees me.

I never know what my hair will be when I go in to visit Terry. Even if I went in and she shaved it all off, I would be cool with it. Hair grows and I love her experimentation. Terry and I both share the goal of using our crafts to spread joy to people. Only Terry spends so much time planning a palette, and creating beautiful compositions only to send them out into the world with her never knowing the impact of her work. She also makes these master pieces knowing that they are temporary - hair grows - hair fades.

On top of the color, Terry also cuts my hair to grow out beautifully and that depending on how I part it becomes many different hair styles in one. I like things to change and transform, so I like that my hair can be 3 different hair cuts in one and each part also reveals new colors. The colors themselves bleed and change every time I wash it. It makes it impossible to capture these transforming looks in just 1 photo!

So this amazing conversation/circle has started between our two work practices: Terry designs my hair often inspired by my work -> her temporary designs dramatically influence my work and person-> I create digital works (from photo shoots I take the day of the design) that give permanence to her designs -> Terry supports my work practice, attending many of my important art openings and buying some of the digital designs on products and we continue this amazing cycle in an evolving way.

Here is an example of one of her hair designs on one of my prints:

( If you are interested in this hoodie you can click this image to the page to buy it. Or I can put this print on any product. Just email me and tell me what print you want and what product you are looking for and I can create a link for you. Remember - buying artist made goods helps support artists work and practices!)

I live with the impact her hair designs have everyday. I get 10-20 people a day come up and have conversations with me about art and color that begin because of my hair. Kids think I am a unicorn and their jaws literally drop when they see it. Her hair designs seem to positively impact the people around me all day, everyday and she never gets to hear these compliments and comments.

Basically now, 20 years later, Terry is a dear friend and collaborator, and her designs have been a pivotal part of all of my big events and major life changes. Her bright colored designs have molded and shaped my art practice, and made me feel the most like myself.

My hair begins and finishes every outfit. My hair helps me express my art ideas in a public, relatable, platform - my hair has made me a more colorful person and artist. My hair has helped me set the tone for just how committed I am living my entire life fighting to be an artist (and it is a fight).

People often ask me if I do my hair myself. I laugh. Absolutely not. It takes an incredibly skilled artist 4-5 hours to put a look that extraordinary together. But there are few things that I look forward to more in a year than getting to spend a day catching up with Terry while she experiments her brilliant ideas on my head.

So of course, when I visited her this week for a new design, we made a plan for me to keep her in the loop for the work I am planning for the 3 person exhibition: "Archive as Action" opening on Feb 8th at the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center and she would start to envision a hair design for the opening based on the work I am preparing, because every major exhibition, and life event, Terry is involved.

#everylittledetailmatters #twoheadsarebetterthanone #Terryisagenius #collaboration #artaslife

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"If it doesn't make the world more awesome, don't do it." - Kid President