Supported by A Blade of Grass, Brooklyn Arts Council, Asian Arts Initiative, and Esopus Foundation, and RedLine
Homeless shelters in Denver, CO; Philadelphia, PA, Reading, PA, New York City, Kingston, NY
Beauty in Transition is an artistic project that established a pop-up mobile hair salon providing beauty services including a hair wash, cut, color and/or style service to willing participants living in transitional housing. By provoking face-to-face dialogue in a calming recuperative salon environment, this project aims to facilitate empathetic understanding and to unravel the reductive label of homelessness.
Care ethics were at the center of this project, and they shaped my artistic decisions along the way. The gesture of care through social art practice is not a one-way paternalistic service; care ethics perpetuate relational and nonhierarchical values toward the goal of equal exchange. Although I secured professional hair stylists from top rated salons to volunteer, Beauty in Transition did not remain a one-way service. Throughout the project I met many transitional housing residents who had cosmetology backgrounds and they participated as service providers. In addition, a few of the stylists shared that they had been homeless in the past and the project brought them into a position to aid a community they were once part of. At a glance, you would not be able to separate who was homeless from who was not.
Beauty in Transition Portraits, 29"x41" Archival Inkjet of Dibond
These images depict the celebratory moments after participants receive haircare inside the Beauty in Transition van.