Hand-sewn Human Hair Drawings

Why do I create hand-sewn human hair drawings?

Answer: I started working with my hair after an artist friend suggested the line work in my wall drawings correlated to human hair. She equated the scratchy and undulating lines on the wall to the texture of hair. I was intrigued by the idea of utilizing hair in my art. Time spent experimenting with the medium of hair resulted in trial and error: gluing it to paper was messy and unruly, but sewing allowed me to translate drawing techniques (such as hatching, stippling, and cross-hatching) into stitches.

I have been collecting my hair on a daily basis since 2000. The collection of my hair is a ritualistic activity; I gather it by running my fingers through my hair each morning or by accumulating that which falls out during a shower. Saved hair is stored in plastic bins. Over the years, I have dyed my hair different shades of brown and red to obtain a greater variety of values and tones. There is a meditative quality to sorting hair – as preparatory work – I enjoy the texture of the hair through my fingers. I slide my fingers down its length and create work piles correlating to length.

My first few hair drawings were graphite, color pencil and a touch of hand-sewn human hair. After becoming more confident with sewing the hair, subsequent artworks were completely created with hand-sewn human hair. In 2002 I began to embed my hair drawings into 3-layer resin casts. Some recent works have intertwined hand-sewn human hair with thread and collage. In 2018 I began to create hand-sewn human hair drawings with my gray hair. Through the hair drawings, I am present in every artwork — literally. It is as if I have found the answer to living forever because I live on through my hair drawings …. momento mori.

Sociologist Rose Weitz published a work called Rapunzel’s Daughters: What Women’s Hair Tells Us about Women’s Lives. She examined the hair’s relationship to sexuality, age, race, social class, health, power, and religion. According to Weitz, hair plays a role in our identity because “It is personal, growing directly out of our bodies and on public view for all to see. And it is malleable, allowing us to change it more or less at a whim. As a result, it’s not surprising that we use our hair to project our identity and that others may see hair as a reflection of our identity.” Hair conveys symbolism in literary works such as The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope and Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm. There are religious connotations to hair which coincide with symbolism reflecting strength, sensuality and reverence: Delila cut off Samson’s hair and Mary Magdalen washed the feet of Jesus with her hair.

My decision to collect and sort my hair to utilize as a vehicle for making art is informed by socio-cultural symbolism, feminism, body image, and religious symbolism. A woman’s hair is laden with sexual meaning; it is her peacock feathers which attract the opposite sex. Long luxurious hair is tossed around in television commercials, it’s shiny and gleaming with health, and it beckons our sense of touch.  Cultural emphasis on long hair led to the development of beauty products to keep long tresses smooth and gleaming. Hair becomes important an attribute of our identity. There is an entire commercial industry built upon the need for longer hair, shiny hair, straight hair, curly hair, softer hair, etc…To the body conscious woman, hair is part of her appeal to the opposite sex.

I like the dichotomy of using hair because there’s the idea that hair can be sexy and engaging to people, on the other hand, it can also be repulsive. Consider finding a hair in your soup or a hair on your hotel pillow. When viewer’s see the drawings in person — the drawings beckon the viewer to move in closer. I have seen gallery patrons be impressed with the technique yet repulsed by the material.

“Our encounter with human hair is often a familiar experience. Most people spend time taking care of their hair daily — washing it, cutting it, cleaning it and styling it — making a public and social world around hair. This world can often also get deeply personal through our encounters with intimate body hair and its management or removal in keeping with the trends of the day. Yet, at the same time, hair occupies another secret world which is less talked about. This is the world of hair loss, the realm of hair pieces, wigs and hair extensions, of keeping up appearances and managing people’s anxieties and needs. This realm is revealed in all its complexity in Emma Tarlo’s new book, Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair.” – Shannon Philip, https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsereviewofbooks/2017/12/08/book-review-entanglement-the-secret-lives-of-hair-by-emma-tarlo/

Click on each image to enlarge. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

NCWCA Exhibition F213 (Fahrenheit 213)

Arc Gallery & Studios, 1246 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

EXHIBITION: April 13 – May 11, 2019

Saturday, April 27th, 1:30-3:30PM – F213 Curatorial Tour led by Dr. Tanya Augsburg, Lead Curator, F213 Exhibition
Thursday, May 2nd, 6:30-10PM – F213 Writer’s Evening, a book reading organized by F213 Writers
Saturday, May 11th, 12-3PM – F213 Panel Discussion and Closing Reception

Curators
Tanya Augsburg, Ph.D., Professor of Humanities and Liberal Studies, San Francisco State University, lead curator
Karen Gutfreund, co-curator, independent curator/artist
Priscilla Otani, co-curator, owner, Arc Gallery, San Francisco
Sawyer Rose, co-curator, activist artist
​Ariana Davi, curatorial apprentice

Artists provide the imagery. Writers respond. Together our voices will be heard. “F213” is short for Fahrenheit 213, one degree above the boiling point of blood. This exhibition brings together nearly 100 national and Bay Area feminist artists and writers who are incensed about what is currently happening in the United States.

San Francisco, December 11, 2018 – Women are rising. In unprecedented numbers and with ever-increasing volume, women are taking their outrage to the streets, to the press, and to the ballot box. As more and more women are openly voicing their fury about state-sanctioned abuses of power, the exhibition F213 spotlights strong and bold artistic expressions of feminist protest.

F213 is short for Fahrenheit 213, one degree above the boiling point of blood. This powerful exhibition by Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art (NCWCA) brings together over 40 national and Bay Area feminist artists who are, in a unique twist, paired with more than 40 writers who are incensed about the current misogyny, discrimination, and loss of hard-won civil rights in the United States, such as reproductive choice, freedom from unlawful detention, protection from police brutality, safety from gun violence, and more.

Curated by NCWCA’s feminist curatorial collective led by Tanya Augsburg, Ph.D., Professor of Humanities and Liberal Studies, San Francisco State University, F213 brings together a diverse and inclusive mix of multicultural, intersectional, multigenerational feminist artists and writers to express their concerns and offer insights to remedy current injustices and atrocities.

Augsburg says, “While we remain hopeful, we reject ‘thoughts and prayers’ as adequate responses to the corruption, cruelty, and discrimination we now experience daily in the U.S. Women, in particular, are past the boiling point and wish to make their voices heard. Artistic expression is our way forward toward social justice.” 

Pictured Below: 1) Rosemary Meza-DesPlas with her artwork “What You Whispered, Should Be Screamed”, 2) View of “What You Whispered, Should Be Screamed” along side of Nancy Hom’s artwork “No More Violence Against Asians”. 3) Kadie Salfi’s work “My Mom & Scorpio”, 4) Ester Hernandez discussing her artwork “Sun Mad”. 5) L to R: Sawyer Rose (Co-Curator of F213), Rosemary Meza-DesPlas, Karen Gutfreund (Co-Curator of F213), 6) Rosemary Meza-DesPlas with artist Judy Shintani, 7) Brenda Oelbaum’s artwork “Piss on Me: Trump Toiliet Trio, 8) Rosemary Meza-DesPlas, Ed DesPlas and Co-Curator of F213 Priscilla Otani. 

For more information on the exhibition:

https://www.ncwca.org/f213-events.html?fbclid=IwAR1My8UUupnhlCm292Q84JqwyPqGvOFI5jstWmvpeEZ0Bji1yw1KzrwEWVc

https://www.arc-sf.com/f213-ncwca-exhibition.html

 

 

Me at exhibitView of art on wallKathieesther hernandezKaren Sawyer RoseJudyBrenda artworkPriscilla

 

 

 

Exhibitions this Spring

Venues to find my artwork over the next couple of months:
the/magazine Project Space
12 New Mexico Artists to Know Now
1415 W. Alameda St., Santa Fe, NM
March 1 – April 27, 2019

Keep Contemporary
New Contemporary: High Art, Low Art, and Everything in Between
142 Lincoln Ave., Santa Fe, NM
February 22 – March 17, 2019

Clamp Light Studios
Cuerpos Unidos
1704 Blanco Rd., San Antonio, TX
March 8 – 29, 2019
Reception: Friday, March 8th, 7-10pm

Site: Brooklyn Gallery
Birthday Suit
165 7th Street, Brooklyn, NY
March 15 – April 13, 2019
Reception: Friday, March 15, 6-9pm

500X Gallery
40th Anniversary Exhibition
500 Exposition Ave. Dallas, TX
March 16 – April 7, 2019
Reception: Saturday, March 16th, 7-10pm

Brownsville Museum of Fine Art
660 E. Ringgold St. , Brownsville, TX
March 28 – April 27, 2019
Reception: Wednesday, March 27th, 6-9pm

Arc Gallery
Fahrenheit 213
1246 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA
April 13 – May 11, 2019
Reception: Saturday, April 13th, 7-9pm

Waterworks Visual Arts Center
Latinx: El Grupo de los 10
123 East Liberty Street, Salisbury, NC
February 9 – May 18, 2019

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Spoken Word Performance at Amos Eno Gallery

Rosemary Meza-DesPlas, also a spoken word performer, will present her piece titled Intervals of Anger at the opening reception on February 1st. She will perform a poem every fifteen minutes in conjunction with an artwork in the exhibition.

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Solo Exhibit at Amos Eno Gallery

Amos Eno Gallery is pleased to present Jane Anger, an exhibition of new works by Rosemary Meza-DesPlas. Jane Anger features hand-sewn human hair drawings, watercolors and onsite installations. The title refers to a 16th century pamphlet published in England titled Jane Anger, Her Protection for Women. The exhibition runs until February 24th at the gallery’s location at 56 Bogart Street in Brooklyn, NY. D739D15F-7DD1-40B7-97BC-27989746F35FIMG_2679IMG_2702IMG_2703IMG_1129 (1)B292599B-E661-4EC0-981D-45E80929A92BIMG_2210IMG_2306IMG_2325IMG_2330IMG_2323

“Every woman has a well-stocked arsenal of anger potentially useful against those oppressions, personal and institutional, which brought that anger into being.” –Audre Lourde

Meza-DesPlas explores the concept of anger as a tool for change by juxtaposing found imagery from social media, art history and mass media. She is interested in how the social movements, Women’s Marches and #MeToo, harnessed anger in order to forefront an array of gender-based burdens.

This exhibition includes Meza-DesPlas’ most recent drawings which incorporate her gray hair. She has been sewing with her own hair since 2000. Her hair is hand-sewn into a variety of grounds with small embroidery needles. Meza-DesPlas’ decision to collect, sort and utilize hair as a vehicle for art-making is informed by socio-cultural symbolism, feminism and body issues, and religious symbolism.

Note on Floor Installation:

These Boots Are Gonna Walk All Over You, 2018

Gallery visitors are encouraged to walk on the vinyl floor applique. This floor piece, comprised of abstract portraits, depicts various men accused of sexual harassment, assault, and/or misconduct. To walk all over someone means –

  • Treat them with contempt
  • To treat someone badly
  • To disrespect
  • To dominate a person
  • To make someone feel inferior

While a small gesture, walking over these perpetrators can provide a sense of empowerment. As you walk across the floor applique, contemplate your personal experiences with sexual harassment, assault, and/or misconduct.

Conversations * Self-reflection * Accountability * Social Transformation

 

“Jane Anger” opens at Amos Eno Gallery

“Jane Anger” will open at Amos Eno Gallery on Friday, February 1st with a reception from 7:00-9:00pm.

Amos Eno Gallery is pleased to present Jane Anger, an exhibition of new works by Rosemary Meza-DesPlas. Jane Anger features hand-sewn human hair drawings, watercolors and onsite installations. Rosemary Meza-DesPlas’ figurative artworks emphasize line and movement. The title refers to a 16th century pamphlet published in England titled Jane Anger, Her Protection for Women. An opening reception will be held on Friday, February 1 from 7-9 PM at the gallery’s location at 56 Bogart Street in Brooklyn, NY.

Meza-DesPlas, also a spoken word performer, will present her piece titled Intervals of Anger at the opening reception. She will perform a poem every fifteen minutes in conjunction with an artwork in the exhibition.

Meza-DesPlas explores the concept of anger as a tool for change by juxtaposing found imagery from social media, art history and mass media. She is interested in how the social movements, Women’s Marches and #MeToo, harnessed anger in order to forefront an array of gender-based burdens.

This exhibition includes Meza-DesPlas’ most recent drawings which incorporate her gray hair. She has been sewing with her own hair since 2000. Her hair is hand-sewn into a variety of grounds with small embroidery needles. Meza-DesPlas’ decision to collect, sort and utilize hair as a vehicle for art-making is informed by socio-cultural symbolism, feminism and body issues, and religious symbolism. Hair embodies a dichotomy: it can be sexy and engaging to people, on the other hand, it can be repulsive – like a hair in your soup or a hair on your hotel pillow. There are religious connotations to hair which coincide with symbolism reflecting strength, sensuality and reverence; such as Delila cutting off Samson’s hair and Mary Magdalen washing the feet of Jesus with her hair.

Rosemary Meza-DesPlas received a MFA in Painting from Maryland Institute, College of Art (Hoffberger School of Painting) and a BFA from The University of North Texas. An article on her hand-sewn human hair drawings was featured in the Huffington Post Arts & Culture section in 2015. Ms. Meza-DesPlas parallels the themes in her artwork with the written word and spoken word performances. In 2018, she presented the academic paper “Reclaiming the Tool of Anger: Year of the Angry Women” at the 9th International Conference of the Image in Hong Kong SAR. Ms. Meza-DesPlas’ recent spoken word performances were at the Feminist Art Conference, Ontario College of Art & Design, Toronto, Canada; Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, NM; ARC Gallery in Chicago, IL and the Durango Arts Center in Durango, CO. Ms. Meza-DesPlas currently lives and works in Farmington, New Mexico.

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Personages#1-#5

Seeing in the age of big data. What information is left out? Artworks are 8 inches diameter. Hand-sewn human hair on fabric, mounted on stretched circle canvas. Hanging hardware on back.

Betty FriedanLucy StoneKate ChopinElizabeth Cady StantonAlice Paul