Sunday, March 4, 2012

Melanie Bilenker

I have a fascination with hair. I prefer extreme haircuts...the kind where for days after my appointment, catching my reflection in a mirror or window takes me completely by surprise. (Who is that?!) I like to keep my hair when I get it cut. I keep it around as a record of time past...and now, as I am starting to get grays, as a record of "how my hair was". Sometimes I use hair in my artwork. I think of it as rope - for tying, restricting, confining, escaping - and I think of how it gets tangled, disheveled, and then combed back into place.

Many artists use hair in their work. One of my favorites is Melanie Bilenker. I can't remember how I first learned about her...but she is in my files. I always make a point of showing her work to my drawing students when we discuss alternate drawing materials. How can you make a line without charcoal o graphite. How does the material the line is made from effect the quality and meaning of the line?

All of these works are "drawn" with Bilenker's own hair. On her website, she writes "The Victorians kept lockets of hair and miniature portraits painted with ground hair and pigment to secure the memory of a lost love. In much the same way, I secure my memories through photographic images rendered in lines of my own hair, the physical remnants. I do not reproduce events, but quiet minutes, the mundane, the domestic, the ordinary moments."

I am excited about these pieces because of the simple, everyday scenes so carefully rendered. The sense of depth Bilenker carefully creates makes me feel I am peering into a window to another world.

You can see much more of Bilenker's work on her website.

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