Dude, where is your stylist? We have to give major props for visual artist Endia Beal, who came up with the genius idea to take a bunch of middle-aged white women to a black salon in Woodstock, NY to get black hairstyles before she photographed them as an art project.
Here’s details via Slate.com:
Although photographer Endia Beal laughs freely while discussing “Can I Touch It?” the point of the series that she worked on this summer during a five-week residency with the Center for Photography at Woodstock isn’t about getting laughs.
The rules were simple: After getting their new styles, the women had to agree to be photographed in a traditional corporate portrait, even if they weren’t happy with the result.
Beal decided not to give the women an option of choosing a style. “I said, ‘I am going to give you a black hairstyle,’ and they were like, ‘You’re going to give me cornrows?’ ” Beal recalled of her conversations with her subjects. “And I said, ‘No, we’re going to do finger waves.’ ‘Finger waves? What’s that? You mean from the ’20s?’ And I said, ‘These are a little bit different type of finger waves!’ ”
Beal specifically chose women who were at least in their 40s, but she tried mostly for baby boomers. “I wanted people that had a certain idea of what you’re supposed to look like in the workspace, because it would be a challenge for them to understand what I experienced in that space,” she said. “And to a degree, many young white women have shared that experience, but for older white women it’s an experience they haven’t necessarily had.”
Although the project has a quirky sense of humor, Beal is an artist looking to open a dialogue among people of different gender, race, and generations about the ways in which we express ourselves, specifically in a corporate environment.
Many of the women Beal included in the project said they felt excited simply to learn about new products and styles and to be able to ask questions without feeling inappropriate. Beal said the project is all about taking a risk, stepping out of your comfort zone, and trying out a new experience
Beal said many of the women she took to the salon took pictures of their new hairstyle on their smartphones and posted pictures on Facebook. Almost all of them embraced Beal after the portraits were taken, saying they were excited to have experienced something new. “Some of them wanted to wear [their hairstyles] out, and some wanted to go home,” Beal said. “Many of them said, ‘I can’t wait to get home and show my husband!’ ”
The results are pure comedy!
The concept was inspired by Beal’s internship experience wearing a big red afro in an IT office. You can read more about it HERE.
Hit the flip for more great photos from her project.