Anne Wilson

I CUT MY HAIR: Blonde and Black Braided

I had a Japanese student named Aiko in classes at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She was a very good student and intense in her attitude about the practice of art. Towards the end of her graduation year, she came in one day looking significantly different. She handed me a gift. She had had extremely long black hair, and I suddenly realized as I looked up to receive this gift, that she had cut it all off. Her gift was the length of her hair, tied at one end. I didn't want to accept this gift. I thought that it must be an expression of personal significance, and that she would want to keep her own hair. She insisted. I told her I would keep it until I had an idea that required the use of her hair through a specific history or connection to her gift. This incident led me to consider not only the diversity of formal beauty and sumptuousness of hair color and texture, but also to consider the range of possible implications or meanings of cutting one's long hair.