Artist: Kimberly Morris
Exhibition: What’s Mine Is Yours, What’s Real Is Not
Media: hair (real & synthetic)
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
About the Artist
Kimberly is originally from New Orleans. Prior to talking with Kimberly, I had no idea about the history of Louisiana and Creole people. She educated me about the history of Creole people and their mark in Louisiana. It gave me a better understanding of her work. This is her third year at CSULB and she is in the masters program for sculpting. She received her BA at Northridge for painting and her MA for sculpting. Growing up, Kimberly’s family looked racially ambiguous. This led to bullying and judgement from peers at school and by standers in public. Her work is a reflection of all of the experiences she endured facing the reality of how society view race.
Well obviously, the first thing that stood out to me was that every single piece in her exhibit was made of HAIR. The hair was braided in one piece one piece and placed in a perfect spiral. Another piece had ethnic style hair (curly) and there was a gold brush separating it from western style hair (straight). The same piece of the spiral braids was used in a photo of the hair covering who I believe is the artist, Kimberly. The extensions along the wall had a beautiful gradient of black to red.
Kimberly has struggled with identity, along with many of other young women. I struggled with an identity crisis growing up in a school of primarily caucasians. There is a undertone of pressure amongst girls to achieve a standard of beauty that is impossible. Growing up, I desperately wanted to be white. I would dye my hair blond, shop at stores with clothing that was designed for caucasian girls, I even tried eyelid glue/tape and circle lenses. It wasn’t until after high school that I realized what I was doing was twisted. Instead of loving myself for my uniqueness, I wanted to conform into a version of myself that a society dominated by caucasians deemed to be beautiful. This was in every way an impossible goal for me to achieve, yet I took extreme measure in hopes that one day I would wake up with big blue eyes, blond hair, and a long lean body.
This experience took me back to a dark place. A place that took many years for me to bury myself into then dig myself back out. Today, I fall more and more in love with the person that I am. My small mono-lid eyes, my short height, my straight black hair, my small nose, my everything. These were all features that made me resent myself because the girls who were born with all of the features society found “beautiful” had is so much easier than I did. Its interesting to look back and think about all the late nights I spent morphing my face into something it could never be. Its some what amusing, yet terrifying. Why does society do this? Pick one size fits all type of beauty and expect anyone who doesn’t fit the criteria to alter themselves? I hope that every little girl who is struggling right now knows that IT DOES GET BETTER.