How long did you spend on your hair this morning? Did you put hairspray in it? Hairgel? Or did you just put a brush or a comb through it as you ran to your first class? An upcoming exhibition at the Bellarmine Museum of Art called “Hair in the Classical World” will show not only how hair has reflected societal norms, but how hair was an integral part of society. The exhibition was co-curated by Dr. Katherine Schwab, professor of visual and performing arts, and Dr. Marice Rose, associate professor of visual and performing arts.
Fairfield students can expect to see this exhibit, which includes over 30 pieces of hair-related art in the Bellarmine Art Museum. According to Linda Wolk-Simon, director of the museum, these pieces are on loan from prestigious places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery and the American Numismatic Society.
These authentic, ancient antiquities come from the “Classical Era,” ranging from 1500 B.C. to 600 A.D. Some of the pieces on display include sculptures, coins and hair styling tools actually used by people during this period. Wolk-Simon could not pick a favorite piece that is a part of the exhibition, but she said the most signature piece is the bust of the influential Roman empress Julia Domna.
The role of hair in the ancient Greek, Cypriot and Roman societies will be looked at through three thematic lenses during the exhibition: Arrangement and Adornment, Rituals and Rites of Passage and Divine and Royal Iconography. When asked about which lens she found interesting, Wolk-Simon explained,“Each lens is a different window into the past and the societies that these pieces come from, giving a deeper understanding and figuring out why hair is the way it is.” If this exhibition of the importance of hair to ancient Greek and Romans is a success, Wolk-Simon said she wishes to also have an exhibition on the hair of other cultures, naming the Italian Renaissance as the next one she would like to showcase.
Along with the exhibition, there will be a variety of other programs to attend, including lectures, a symposium and workshops for students and families. The main purpose of these activities is to show the critical role that hair played in identity, such as designating social status or class, its formation and how a culture’s ideals shape human appearance, while simultaneously making important connections to identity today.
The exhibition will run from Oct. 7 through Dec. 18, with an opening reception open to the public at the Bellarmine Museum of Art on Oct. 6 from 6-8 p.m.