“Shearing” 30 x 30″
In her explorative Hair Pieces, photographer Rebecca Drolen calls us to consider the place of beauty, of standards, of hair within the context of our society. Through self-portraiture Drolen captures a dynamic collection of images that focus on the roles we place on hair. Her approach is both surreal and tongue-in-cheek. “The imagery and symbolism of hair as strength (mythologically) or beauty and sexuality in contemporary culture, seemed to be such a fruitful territory to spend time making within,” Drolen explains.
Hair Pieces considers the juxtaposition of body hair, the desirable and the disgraceful. In a much broader sense it offers a social critique of identity and self-image in a contemporary context.
One of the collection’s photographs, “Longer Lashes,” Drolen crosses humor with horror; her jarring, hyperbolic response to the question of when unrealistic feminine standards turn sour. “The theme that I am most interested in is that we have so many double standards for hair,” says Drolen. “We cultivate and embrace hair in some areas of our bodies (indeed we sometimes feel like we cannot have enough), while we compulsively remove and hide that we have hair on other parts of our bodies. We enter cycles of growth and removal that seem to be a shared exercise in frustration and futility – it keeps growing back.”
Hair Pieces probes the questions of that tension from a fresh and unyielding perspective. A comprehensive meditation, the collection is Drolen’s first major work in her post-graduate career.
“Toe Hair” mixed media 1.5″ x 1.5″
The collection Hair Pieces in on view in conjunction with the Society for Photographic Education (SPE) National conference, held in Philadelphia this year, March 1-4. The SPE is a nonprofit organization that aims to promote a larger, more comprehensive understanding of the medium public programs and service.
~ Nick Crouse ‘19
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant
“Haircut” 30 x 90″