Feature Articles
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June Issue 2009

College of Charleston in Charleston, SC, Features Works by Caryl Burtner, Sonya Clark, Talia Greene, Ruth Marten, Althea Murphy-Price, and Loren Schwerd

The College of Charleston in Charleston, SC, is presenting the exhibit, Hair on Fire, featuring works by Caryl Burtner, Sonya Clark, Talia Greene, Ruth Marten, Althea Murphy-Price, and Loren Schwerd, on view at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston's School of the Arts, through June 15, 2009.

Curated by Mark Sloan, Hair on Fire represents six contemporary artists who explore the diverse history of human hair through their art-from its significance in mythology, cultural anthropology, fashion, and folklore, to its rich metaphorical possibilities. Each artist creates works that are either made of, incorporate, or relate to the hirsute. Artists featured are Caryl Burtner, Sonya Clark, Talia Greene, Ruth Marten, Althea Murphy-Price, and Loren Schwerd.

Hair has played an important role in art and culture at least since the Egyptians. Facial hair was considered a sign of royal status as evidenced in portraiture of the period. Beards, in particular, were so important that Queen Hatshepsut (Maatkare-1473-1458 B.C.) is depicted wearing a false beard in her royal portrait (the first bearded woman?).

Contemporary artists often work with unconventional materials to produce their works. In this exhibition, hair is the unifying element explored by these nationally known artists. Caryl Burtner invites audience participation by having a "clipping station" where viewers can cut off a lock of their own hair to add to her collection. Sonya Clark explores various forms using her own hair and that of friends and family. Talia Greene digitally modifies 19th century photographic cabinet cards featuring portraits of individuals with unusual hair styles. Ruth Marten shows a penchant for the perverse and the absurd in her drawings and prints featuring hirsute subjects. Althea Murphy-Price demonstrates the formal possibilities inherent in synthetic hair as wall reliefs, sculpture, and throw rugs. Loren Schwerd has created a series of portraits of dilapidated post-Katrina houses in New Orleans made out of hair extensions rescued from the debris of a flooded hair salon.

This exhibition has been made possible with the special assistance of Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art patrons: Denise Barto, Rebecca Davenport, Amelia Handegan, Nikki Hardin, Elyza Lazar, Nancy Marshall and John McWilliams, Carlos M. Salinas, and Wally Seinsheimer.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call the gallery at 843/953-5680 or visit (www.halsey.cofc.edu).

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