A Hair-Raising Question:


As is clearly evident from the never-ending press coverage of all things hair, uniquely crafted coiffures make a bold statement about a person.

Teasing, straightening, blown out or pulled back, there are certainly no shortage of styling techniques; keeping up with the latest hair accessories and “it” stylists can be an exhausting endeavor. But while you may not find UK-based artist Kerry Howley behind a salon chair, her work as a skilled hair stylist is gathering international attention.

Hoping to explore the attachment people feel for their hair in her award-winning 2011 Attraction/Aversion graduate collection, Howley decided to use hair as the medium for a line of neck collars. Over 60 hours of work go into each henna-inspired piece of intricate shapes and patterns, all made from strands of hair cut from her friends and family.

Howley explains that the collection is meant to question how we can feel seemingly opposing emotional responses simultaneously. Using human hair, the work also questions our qualifications for what society deems beautiful. Especially among women, hair on our head is something in which we take much pride, putting a lot of time and money into its maintenance and grooming. Once it leaves our roots however, it is something we scoff at, often disgusted by our own strands that go astray.

While I may fall into the aversion category, I was struck by the effectiveness of Howley’s work to question my own standards of beauty. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ll ever look at a strand of hair the same way.

Posted by Emily

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