The Hair Craft Project is an exercise in socially engaged art practices, based on the premise that hairdressing is the primordial textile art form. Sonya Clark, artist and project director, sought to bridge multiple communities: African American hair salons; students, faculty, and alumni of Virginia Commonwealth University’s nationally ranked arts programs; and the broader art community. The project frames the complex craftsmanship, engineering, and skill of hairstylists specializing in African hair-braiding techniques in cultural, historical, and contemporary-art contexts. The Hair Craft Project is innovative in its methods of attracting, building, and bridging audiences while supporting and acknowledging the parallel skills of artists and hairstylists. Through this art form, the project connected cultures, class, and race in Richmond, Virginia, a city with a history of being racially, culturally, and economically divided. The project went on to gain national attention. It was selected by artists Leonardo Drew, Katherina Grosse, and the late founder of Art 21, Susan Sollins, for the Juror’s Grand Prize at Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in fall 2014. The Hair Craft Project will travel to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in Fall 2015.

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