"Hair in the Classical World" Exhibit Comes to the Bellarmine
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"Hair in the Classical World" Exhibit Comes to the Bellarmine

Fairfield University’s Bellarmine Museum of Art presents its newest exhibition, Hair in the Classical World on view from Wednesday, October 7, 2015, through Friday, December 18, 2015. An opening reception, free and open to the public, will take place at the Bellarmine Museum of Art from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 6.

From antiquity to the present day, hair has seldom been worn in its natural state. Whether cut, shorn, curled, straightened, braided, beaded, worn in an upsweep or down to the knees, adorned with pins, combs, bows, garlands, extensions, and other accoutrements, hair has the power to reflect societal norms. In ancient societies, not only did hairstyles and their depictions signal wealth and social status, or divine and mythological iconography; they also provided keen insight into rites of passage and religious rituals.

As the first exhibition of its kind in the United States, Hair in the Classical World will take you on a cultural journey through ancient Greece, Cyprus, and Rome, and will examine the role of hair in each through three thematic lenses: Arrangement and Adornment; Rituals and Rites of Passage; and Divine and Royal Iconography. Presenting some 33 objects from ancient Greece, Cyprus, and Rome, dating from the Bronze Age to late Antiquity (1500 BCE – 600 CE), Hair in the Classical World will illustrate the ways in which hair and hairstyles served as important signifiers in Classical Antiquity. The sculptures, coins, and hair styling tools on view in the exhibition have been lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the American Numismatic Society.

Fairfield University faculty members Dr. Katherine Schwab, Professor of Art History, and Dr. Marice Rose, Associate Professor of Art History, in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, teamed up to co-curate the groundbreaking exhibition.  Hair in the Classical World proceeded from Dr. Schwab’s earlier research and the 2009 Caryatid Hairstyling Project. This project – and its internationally screened short film – demonstrated that the complex hairstyles worn by the six ancient marble Caryatids, or maidens, who grace the south porch of the Erechtheion (430 BCE) on the Athenian Acropolis, were able to be replicated on contemporary young women.  Associate Professor Marice Rose’s research on adornment-related imagery, including hairstyling, in the late Roman Empire has been published and presented at conferences nationally and internationally.

In addition to the ongoing exhibit, extensive exhibition programming will also be offered:

  • Family Day on Saturday, November 19 will explore Daily Life in Ancient Greece with arts and crafts, braiding, and dress-up in two sessions 1-2:30 and 2:30-4
  • Scholarly symposium on the topic of Hair in the Classical World will take place on Friday, November 6 from 12:30-4:30 in the Diffley Boardroom of Bellarmine Hall
  • October 14 at 3 p.m. the museum will offer curatorial talks by Dr. Rose and Dr. Schwab
  • Two interdisciplinary panels relating to hair featuring Fairfield University faculty will be held on October 20 at 5:00 and October 28 at 4:00.

 Admission to the Bellarmine Museum of Art is always free. Hours are Monday-Friday: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (open select Saturdays, see website calendar www.fairfield.edu/museum for details). 

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Last modified: Thu, 24 Sep 2015 14:07:55 EDT

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