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Don't Touch My Hair: Expressions of Identity and Community

Friday, December 7, 2018 at 7:00am to 7:00pm

Erb Memorial Union (EMU), Adell McMillan Gallery
1395 University Street, Eugene, OR 97403

Now on view in the EMU Adell McMIllan Gallery: “Don’t Touch My Hair: Expressions of Identity and Community,” an exhibit on loan to the EMU Visual Arts Team from the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA). The exhibition features the photographic works of University of Oregon current student/recent alumni photographers: Ugochukwu Akabike, Jasmine Jackson, Malik Lovette, Bryan Rodriguez, and Keith Simms. The exhibit was originally created by a sponsorship from the University of Oregon Division of Equity and Inclusion, the exhibition features thirty photographs.

“Don’t Touch My Hair” was organized for the JSMA by Guest Curator Meredith Lancaster (MA 2015, history of art and architecture), Assistant Curator Kristen Clayton (graduate student, non-profit management), project collaborator Roderick Hall (graduate student, community and regional planning).

“The idea for this project came from hair stylist, consultant, and motivational speaker Jeanelle Crouch during a visit to University of Oregon (UO) in 2017,” says Lancaster. “It is a collaborative initiative led by and featuring University of Oregon students and alumni that has received generous support from  the UO Division of Equity and Inclusion, Black Women of Achievement, and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.”

Hair can be a symbolic site of individuality, conformity, ritual, tradition, memory, emotion, and social affiliations. In a period of two weeks in Winter 2017 term, University of Oregon students and staff attended community conversations where they shared their thoughts and experiences regarding the politics of hair and definitions of beauty, racialized beauty standards, cultural influences, societal pressures, personal expressions of identity, and the topic of consent. The five featured student photographers of "Don't Touch My Hair" met with conversation participants who shared their truths and posed for the camera. 

“This exhibition challenges us all to consider the powerful statements hair can make,” says Lancaster. “In the politically and culturally charged climate we live in, hair--both seen and unseen--can be a tool for resistance and affirmation. “

The exhibit is on view in the EMU Adell McMIllan Gallery November 5 - December 8, 2018.