18 April 2011

Mourning As A Memory

Many of you haven’t been able to see my work, so this post is for you. But lets start with a little background:

Josh always loved my hair cut short. After he passed away, I got a nice haircut, spoke at his funeral, and have since grieved through his loss by continually changing my hair. 

A hairdresser contacted me through Facebook and offer to trade services, I would photograph her wedding and she would do my hair before, during and after the time she got married. I asked her when she was getting married. And her response was: “I don’t even have a boyfriend.”
So the trade was on, and since then she has helped me try to find out who I am without Josh here. 

The avenues of identity have been traveled through trendy colors, styles and new techniques the industry of hair uses to enhance what they believe to be beauty. She gave me an edgy haircut and color. It became popular to a couple guys I know, romantic compliments were given to me. They were wrapped around this aesthetic change, and I hate the fact that it took a vibrant red hairdo to get attention. I became obsessed and compulsive about my identity pertaining to hair.  Naturally, I began to study it in the scriptures and on the Internet and I started to talk to everyone about how they felt about their hair.

Themes of mourning, grief, loss and memory are portrayed. 

Through the medium of hair, I incorporate genealogical and religious references to blur the lines between identity and identity pertaining to hair. 

Historically, Mormon women believed their crowning glory was their hair. The cutting a strand of their hair evoked a memory, even a gift of departing. 

As a form of mourning, a lock of hair would be cut and created into a memorial artifact as it was placed inside a belt buckle or brooch. 

The transformation has begun, from loss to knowing.

When the strands and bundles of hair are given to me, I collect the stories. 

As I photograph the hair, I ponder upon the associated experiences. I then seek to mediate the stories and emotions. Through this process, a form of healing emerges.
 For me, this process has become revelatory. 

I habitually examine and evaluate the connection I am making between hair and identity, story and person. 

As I strive to restore, to resurrect the buried experience, mourning has become the memory.

I used the quilt to house my emotions. The hair squares represent compartments and moments of experienced grief. 

The two photos above have the following conversation attached to them:

Me: Why do you keep your hair?
Kent: It reminds me of what I used to be able to do.
I was invincible then.

The words are feelings and phrases that reoccur in my mind. 

So as I documented them, they became something new.

(photo above) This piece of hair is only bangs, She has only cut her hair three times.
She was forced to keep it long as a child and ironically, she keeps it long now,as 
it reminds her of her beauty experienced as a child.

It seems we search for who we might be and we associate
ourselves with our hair,

This is my own attempt to create a symbol of belonging and a source of solace. Through the documentation of hair, I resurrect the memory and experiences I have had, associated with mourning.

A video to compile it all:


LPB said...

Thank you very much for sharing your inner feelings. This makes complete sense to me. Love you so much friend!

ArizonaLewis said...

you are so tapped in and real- it's beautiful.
and very scary.
experiencing your project has made me realized how very little i know about who i am right now.
the wheels are turning.
i love you for that.

Heidi said...

That was very powerful!

J.lee Hansen said...

Thank you for reading and reflecting

Melissa said...

Great job, Jenny! The video is especially powerful.

J.lee Hansen said...

Thanks... I wasn't sure, when I was making it....it feels so personal and yet necessary.

Holly said...

That was beautiful. I thought I knew what you work was all about and then I read this. You amaze me more and more every time you photograph, film, write, etc. Thank you Jenny! I am going to miss you now that you are graduating.

J.lee Hansen said...

Holly, we became friends so easily... therefore we will remain friends the same way.

Toni Marie said...

that was amazing! you are so talented!!

Heidi said...

So true that hair captures the essence of who we are and who we are trying to be at the time. The biological makeup of the hair can't hide who we are, but the dye, or cut, or style expresses what we want the world to see.

thank you jenny, for daring to be as real as I would (as many of us) would like to be.

Ashley said...

That's just beautiful Jenny. I wish l could have seen the show.

Anonymous said...

There was a time when I thought I might have cancer. (you offered to make me head bands if I did) It turned out to be nothing, but I worried more about losing my hair than I did about dying. It's almost as if the loss of my hair was dying to me. Perhaps cutting mine off would help me let go of who I was and become who I will be. I felt guilty when I learned of your loss and for me everything was O.K. I love you Jenny. I'm sorry for your loss. But I'm thankful for who you've become.