Seven Fairfield students each sat for up to an hour last spring, getting their hair braided, twisted, curled and pulled into intricate Greek styles. “I thought they looked like divas,” said Milexy Torres, their stylist.
Were the women getting ready for the Dogwood Dance or for a fancy black tie event in the city? No. They were getting styled to be part of Professor Kathy Schwab’s noted project to explore hair and it’s function in ancient Greek Culture.
Schwab’s focus and inspiration was on the Caryatids, the columns that are carved into female figures on Erechtheion in Athens, Greece. One notable feature of these stone ladies is that all of them have curiously great hair.
So when Schwab approached Caitlin Parker ’11 after an art history lecture and asked her model in her experimental recreation of the caryatid’s interwoven braids and twists, she said sure. “I had no idea what we were doing,” Said Parker, “I just knew I’d come out with a great hair do.”
Schwab’s goal was to explore the ornate hair on the maiden sculptures in great detail, to try to recreate it in an attempt to uncover more meaning to the masterpieces.
On April 26, 2009, Schwab got to see her experiment come to life, as the seven girls stood in formation on the Bellarmine lawn mimicking the Erectheon’s positioning in 92-degree weather. The project was so innovative that it went far beyond getting recognition in Fairfield.
It made the front page of a newspaper in Athens this year.
Did the girls expect international attention? “I didn’t even know there was going to be a DVD,” said Parker, with a laugh.
Members of the audience seemed to be impressed too. “I was actually really intrigued. It’s incredible that they made the front page in Greece. That’s a great honor for Fairfield,” said Andrea Fernandez ’13.
For the people involved, it seemed as though the process had unlikely impact. For Dr. Schwab, success has come from international scholars.
As for the models, the experience was one of a kind. Amber Nowak ’12 said, “While as models we didn’t play an academic part in the project, it definitely allowed us to see how the experience related in an academic way.”