Sandra Klowak - Winnipeg/Treaty 1, Canada
I make art with human and pet hair, based on the historic craft of Victorian hairwork, which exploded in popularity during the 1800s. Hairwork was used to memorialize the dead as well as to celebrate friendship, romantic bonds and kinship between the living. The techniques I use are historic, but I bring my own modern perspective to this traditional art form.
Hair has the power to immortalize our bodies through art. I’m fascinated by historic artefacts made from organic matter, like body parts and food – things that should have decomposed or been disposed of but have somehow survived as tangible chunks of history, connecting us to the past lives of real people.
I love working with a material as culturally charged as human hair, which holds a uniquely polarizing and conflicting influence. Hair is coveted and worshipped when it appears in socially acceptable places, yet it’s reviled, revolting, and even frightening when it shows up somewhere undesirable, or in unsanctioned forms. It evokes strong reactions and invites us to engage with concepts of gender, power, control/chaos, and more.
Read more about my work in this profile in the Winnipeg Free Press.
A huge thank-you to all those who have generously donated hair to my projects.