Photoshopping A New Continent

Spartan Artist-in-Residence Kenyatta Hinkle

Kenyatta Hinkle says she thinks Sam’s trailer has a life of it’s own.  As the Trash On Wheels’ first Artist In Residence, she was asked to tells us what it’s like to make art inside the trailer. With her husband and friends playing soulful, spiritual jazz,  she set up shop one afternoon during the Arts In The One World Conference, January 27-29.

“The floorboards move.  There’s energy in there,” she said, stopping to take in the vibe of the sixty-year old structure.   “There are some stories here.  It even smells like my grandmother’s attic. It’s high and low art – it’s a home and not a home. ”

Born in Louisville and raised in Baltimore, Kenyatta came to CalArts as a visual artist. She switched to a major in multimedia interdisciplinary art to give her more tools to work with. As she sat outside with her back leaning against the trailer she tried to figure out how to attach one half of a straight-haired blond wig to half of a black curly one.

“You wear this when you go for a job interview. The black half works works for the employer looking for diversity.  The blonde one…” she said, her voice trailing off. “Before I came to CalArts, I did a lot of work around the power of hair.  When Delilah cut Samson’s hair, he lost his power.  Hair can also have a religious aspect; in some cultures, people in mourning don’t comb their hair.”

She studied awesome pictures of African women with elaborate hairstyles.  “If you see a deer with horns you don’t mess with it,” she said.

Her mother was always strict about hair.  “We weren’t allowed to go out of the house unless our hair was combed. In traditional African culture, you have to be aligned before you got out into the world.  That means your hair has to be combed.”

Kenyatta’s mother creates elaborate hairstyles that take hours to create. “A while back I found pictures of women in Africa with the exact same hairstyles.  My mother had no idea!”

When Kenyatta got married she cut off her husband’s lock and wove it into her own hair. It was kind of a present. “In certain tribes women pass down their hair extensions,” she explains.  “It’s called the gifting of hair. There’s power in hair,” she explains.  “Sampson lost his power when Delilah cut off his hair.”

Her current work consist of creating her own continent.  She plans to mix a little piece of Kentucky, where some of ancestors are from, with a little piece of West Africa, where others originated.   A lot of her history is unknown to her, so she’ll just make that part up.

“I like to subvert things,” she says.  “It’s kind of like Photoshopping.”

See Kenyatta Hinkle’s You Tube video

This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from http://spartantrailerrestoration.wordpress.com as part of our CSPA Supports Program.

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