On View from March 21–August 11, 2024

Everyone has a hair story to tell.

Hair is an integral part of us. It is personal and intimate while also being one of the most visible ways we express our identity to the world. We use it to reinvent or disguise ourselves. We style our hair to make a statement: to follow trends and conform, or to forge our own path in defiance of social norms. But hair is more than symbolic—it is a tangible manifestation of our DNA, tying us to our ancestors. We keep hair as a token of love and remembrance, honoring a child’s first haircut or a loved one who has passed. Its significance on both a personal and societal level has made hair a powerful focus of art throughout human history.

We realize it’s impossible for one exhibition to fully tell the story of hair, but the Wadsworth Atheneum’s exhibition Styling Identities: Hair’s Tangled Histories aims to tell a story about what hair means to us—to our individual staff, to our museum, and to our Hartford communities. Organized by a team of curators passionate about hair, drawn from across levels and departments at the museum, this exhibition is about us as much as it is about hair. Hair is community. Hair is power. Hair is us.

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Styling Identities: Hair’s Tangled Histories was curated by a team of staff across departments at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, in partnership with a Community Advisory Board including Jasmin Agosto, Marian Andoh-Clarke, Harry Bates, Carmen Veal Conway, Miguel DelValle, Miriam Gopin, Christina Jackson, Dalia Kulek, Rabbi Yosef Kulek, Prabhjit Mutneja, Andre Rochester, Graciela Rivera, Husna Sayeed, Gurmeet Singh, and Karen Taylor. We also extend our deepest gratitude to Revisionist Films, Amaranta’s Hair Salon, Brown Skin Women Studio, INDAKUT Barbershop, and all the individuals who agreed to take part in our video projects, as well as everyone who shared their hair story through the Zine, a reflective label, or the mobile guide. This exhibition is better because of you.

This exhibition is sponsored by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Anonymous, The Edward C. & Ann T. Roberts Foundation, the Henkel Corporation and Travelers.

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