From a hirsute Beasty Girl to a lock of George Washington’s hair, this project explored the significance of facial, head, and body hair in western society from the Renaissance to the present. Though primarily focused on paintings, prints, photographs, and sculptures, the exhibition also included objects made from hair, including Victorian hair wreaths, mourning jewelry, and wigs. Hair care products and devices, and popular imagery from early prints, magazines, and television ads also testified to hair’s prominence in popular culture. These objects are symbolic manifestations of hair’s connection to expressions of gender, social identity, power and personal identity. In recognition of the evolving status of hair’s visual meaning, the exhibit traced the shifting semiotics of hair and grooming as styles changed through time and social context.
The exhibition included objects from a wide variety of sources, from The Final Touch Hair salon to the Smithsonian Institution, and the Tang is grateful to the many institutions that helped locate materials and generously loaned objects.
This project was made possible by support from the Gilette Corporation and the Nathalie Potter Voorhees ’45 memorial fund. Additional support was provided by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty at Skidmore College and the Faculty Development Committee.
A catalogue of this exhibition by Penny Jolly is available, including essays by Gerald M. Erchak, Professor of Anthropology at Skidmore College; Amelia Rauser, Associate Professor of Art History at Franklin and Marshall College; Jeffrey O. Segrave, Professor of Exercise Science at Skidmore College, and Susan Walzer, Professor of Sociology at Skidmore College.