braid.ing (2021-ongoing)

"I think about hair as a source of power and life force. I myself try to grow my hair as long as I can as it falls down my back in waves that shield my back from energy attacks from the world. I fuse with my hair—braiding it when my hands don't have anything to do or I am so entrenched in a conversation and I can’t consciously stop them from weaving the strands together. I weave them together like I weave my conversations, my memories, my grieving. My hair is a source of power and life force, because it manifests my life within it to be visible and seen.

 

This week, I wove my grandmother’s hair. When in New Mexico, I went upstairs to check on her state. I noticed that she was slowly rising from her bed, reaching for her hairbrush to run through her thinning hair before she could resume coming downstairs to be with her family. I sat in the chair and watched her brush her hair, the hair falling out of her head. The cancer was making her lose her white hair, starving her from nutrition. But this beautiful hairbrush was collecting the fallen strands, like tender fingers racking through fibers to weave them together. A silver nest. Her hair in the brush looked like a silver nest for birds.

 

She turned her face to me and smiled, and I smiled back at her—making a note in my head that I would be returning for the hair in the hairbrush. I would cherish every strand, like a spoken word from her.

 

Once I returned home, I slowly picked one strand at a time and lined them up together into a lock of hair that could be washed. The act became ceremonial and I pretended that I was there with her, washing her hair as tenderly as I could. Like a mother would do for a new born child. This week, I pondered what it means to share these moments with another—to brush, wash, or touch someone else’s hair. I can't begin to understand what it feels like to die from cancer, every bone in your body feeling like it's about to snap due to the cancer infection. But I would imagine that, small strokes of love through someone’s hair would comfort.

 

I would feel comforted. 
 

This week, I poured over a finished carved piece of wood that I took from her fireplace. Another comfort that she and I shared in the winter months in Santa Fe. Once finished, I cut a strand of my own hair and began to braid both of our hair strands together. I submitted the artwork into an art show called HARD & soft, and was accepted to place the artwork outside." -Journal Entry, January 2021

Project(s) by
Shelbie Loomis (writing, drawings, sculpture)
Shelbie Loomis & Laura Glazer (braid.ing)

Location
Portland, OR & Santa Fe, NM

Year
2021 

Tags
hair braiding
drawing
sculpture