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For New York artist Brittany Schall, the act of drawing hair initially began as a way to fine-tune her drawing skills. Hair is fluid and full of movement, making it challenging to capture. Schall began drawing hair with the thought process that “if I was able to draw hair in a photorealistic manner, I would be able to draw almost anything”. Her intricate drawings of hairstyles are surrounded by negative white space; there are no faces, no background details. The only information the viewer is given about the subject is their choice of hair.

Schall noticed that when people viewed the drawings, their instinctive reaction would be to fill in the blanks. By reading only the subtle visual details provided by the hair, such as the texture and style, they would construct an image of the identity of the subject, speculating on everything from gender, race, status and mood. To Schall, this indicates how hair can be a signifier of identity, and how it influences how we are perceived by others. She explains, “it made me realise that even the most subtle nuances of hair communicate who we are – or maybe more importantly, who we attempt to be.” Her later series ‘The Garden’ investigates this concept further, focusing on sexual identity, by portraying pubic regions with flora and other organic elements.

Brittany Schall Tied
Brittany Schall Tousled
Brittany Schall Down
“even the most subtle nuances of hair communicate who we are”
Brittany Schall
Brittany Schall Temporal Touch
Brittany Schall Despondent
Brittany Schall Down

Text Emma de Clercq
Images courtesy of Brittany Schall Website

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