Artist: Kimberly Morris
Exhibition: What’s Mine is Yours, What’s Real is Not
Media: Synthetic Weave Hair, Human Hair
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery East
Kimberly Morris is a graduate student seeking her MFA at CSU Long Beach in Sculpture; she received a BFA in painting at CSU Northridge. She’s from Los Angeles and now lives around Baldwin Hills. She says her prior school setting was in a diverse community that mirrored that of her family, which is a mixture of both black and white, but she chooses to identify as neither. Her art explores the lines of humanism and racism, since growing up, she was teased for being a black girl that “acted white.” She’s had the experience of being victim to hate crimes from people she considered her own race. She was bullied, harassed, and someone even cut her hair to push her down with the claim that it was too long and that she was acting white.
Her sculptures consisted of hair, both real and synthetic. They’re large pieces with an object girls see daily, also with lots of texture. They’re textured since it’s supposed to mirror that of unruly hair that “ethnic” women have- something I can personally relate to. There was a long piece that stretched from the ceiling against the wall, down to the ground and out, ending with a comb and straightened hair at the end. Another piece was like this long braid that came straight down from the ceiling and transitioned sharply from pink, blonde, and finally black. The transition did not resemble an ombre and the colors didn’t fade into each other, they had a definite beginning and ending. She also had a short video playing in the next room, which showed her washing her hair, blow drying, combing, and finally ending with a sizzle as she straightened her hair. The video was short, and had pretty sharp transitions which gave a clear presentation as to what was going on, and even if the clips inside the video were short, showed that the overall process was long and tedious.
While listening to a conversation she was in, she stated that “the color of your skin is irrelevant to an individual, since the only thing that makes people unique is where they are born because of the cultural roots.” The media portrays African-Americans in a very negative light that paints them out to be ghetto, dumb, mannerless and just overall belittles their community, she feels that the hardworking side of their culture is ignored. Her art work revolves around the idea of trying to change the way we look and attempting to make our features and presentation as American or European as possible in order to attract members of society and to be able to fit in and be able to play our roles in job hunting, working, and being out in public. People are so absorbed with colorism and putting down those people that don’t fit into the cookie cut mold. The struggle that minorities go through in order to fit in begin with appearance and a big thing for girls, is hair and makeup. Morris focuses on hair and shows her own struggle with this.
I personally absolutely loved this exhibit. I’m not black but I’m share there’s some sort of mixed blood in me from a few generations back as a Salvadorean. I also deal with the hair struggle. The communities I’m in center around always looking presentable and good, which include taming my otherwise curly, voluminous hair. The lesser evil for me, is to straighten my hair; burn my hair straight, once or twice a week in order to look good. I probably watched her video about 5 times and just threw myself back to earlier that week when I had done my hair. And flashed back to when I was in high school, middle school, and my last year of elementary school when doing your hair was expected.