Art event on black barbershops blends hair history, health
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The art of the Afro and high-top fade took center stage Sunday at the Toledo Museum of Art’s GlasSalon during an event to promote the creativity and history of black barbershops and their role in community wellness.
“The Art of the Cut” featured live demonstrations from barbers affiliated with a ProMedica initiative that partners with predominantly black barbershops to provide health screenings and education there.
“It gives us an opportunity to display our skills while bringing people together,” said barber Corvette Derden, who showed off his talents on stage. “We’re very connected to the community so we brought a lot of people out with us. It’s just an amazing experience.”
In between cuts showcasing styles from the 1950s through the 2000s, attendees listened to era-appropriate music as well as live performances from barbershop quartet Water.
Sunday’s event was hosted by the museum’s Circle group, which aims to draw in a broader audience through diverse and innovative programs. It is part of a larger effort to showcase the connection between art and wellness, said Alyssa Greenberg, a leadership fellow with the museum.
“We’re celebrating the barbers as artists and it’s because they are artists that they are able to be men’s wellness advocates and to be community leaders,” she said. “Their capacity as artists is what garners this trust and respect.”
African-American men have a higher incidence of diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic illnesses than the overall population, and are at higher risk certain cancers and premature death. ProMedica’s program offers health screenings to clients who might not go to the doctor often by embracing the strong social connections that exist in the shops.
Among those attending Sunday’s sold-out event was hair stylist Yolanda Grace, who said she welcomed the “different vibe” at the museum.
“I love it,” she said. “I think it’s a very creative idea.” Grace, 52, who has been doing hair since she was 14, said she’s passionate about hair as a creative outlet.
“Have you ever taken a picture to your stylist and said, ‘I want this look’? It might be close to the picture, but not exactly,” she said. “That’s because that’s her vision, her eye, or his eye. It’s their art.”
Information from: The Blade, http://www.toledoblade.com/