BRATTLEBORO — Photographer Rachel Portesi will give a talk via Zoom and Facebook Live through the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center.
The talk, presented in connection with the exhibit “Rachel Portesi: Hair Portraits” — a series of tintype photographs on view at the museum through Feb. 14, 2021 — is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 18. A link to attend the talk will be available at brattleboromuseum.org.
Curated by the museum’s chief curator Mara Williams, “Hair Portraits” reflects how since the beginning of human history, hair has held symbolic, cultural and emotional significance, being one of the only aspects of an individual’s appearance over which one has near-full control, according to information provided by the museum. In the context of “Hair Portraits,” this notion of control takes on an exaggerated visual form, in that models’ hair is literally pinned to a wall for an effect that often appears to defy physics.
In addition to Portesi’s talk, the museum will present two other events related to the exhibit. On Jan. 14, at 7 p.m., Helen Sheumaker, an associate teaching professor at Miami University and the author of “Love Entwined: The Curious History of Hairwork in America,” presents “Linking Us Fondly: Hairwork in 19th Century America.” On Thursday, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m., Portesi will present an online tintype photography demonstration from her Saxtons River photography studio.
The selection of photographs on view at the museum includes 17 tintype works depicting the hair of three models. The exhibition also features a film piece comprising “hair sculpture” process footage shot on a combination of three devices: a hand-crank 16mm film camera from 1948, a Super 8 film camera from 1978 and an iPhone 6 from 2014.
Portesi’s representation of multiple ethnicities and sexual identities, while not deliberate — her model pool for the portraits on view was “three friends who were excited about the project,” she told the museum — speaks to hair-related identity as a universal construct, but one that is unique to the lived experiences of the individual.
The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, at the intersection of Main Street and routes 119 and 142, is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is on a “pay-as-you-wish” basis. The museum is wheelchair accessible. More information is available by calling 802-257-0124 or visiting brattleboromuseum.org.