Joanne Petit-Frère: In the Studio

15 - 22 May 2020
  • 'My work can be very technically involved and also has facets of an experimental nature.” –Joanne Petit-Frère

    "My work can be very technically involved and also has facets of an experimental nature.” –Joanne Petit-Frère

  • 'Every story that I hear and share is part of the engagement that is entrusted during the ritual of hair...

    "Every story that I hear and share is part of the engagement that is entrusted during the ritual of hair building, crown building, idea building.”

  • “In various cultures, the middle of the head is seen as sacred space that is covered or ordained, whether by...

    “In various cultures, the middle of the head is seen as sacred space that is covered or ordained, whether by a yarmulke or a veil. In almost every spiritual tradition it is referred to as the portal to the soul and the most sacred part of the body. The Yoruba term ‘Ori’ descbes the divine self. This orbital crown is literally a depiction of Ori Apon (the Higher Self) and Ori Inu (the Inner Self) coming into alignment. It is a natural law that once you are in alignment with your higher self, you can achieve healthy balance of thought and evolve spiritually. This braided natural style depicts the sacred geometrical sphere of Ori in three dimensions." 

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  • Press Release

    Joanne Petit-Frère (b. 1987, lives New York, NY) addresses the human body as a site of beauty and adornment. Drawing on various African Diaspora traditions, Old West movies, the photographs of Cindy Sherman, the history of Haiti, and a range of other sources, Petit-Frère makes films, drawings and labor-intensive tapestries and sculptures that involve weaving by hand eight or more colors of synthetic hair.

    Many of Joanne Petit-Frère’s wall-works and sculpture are activated by performance. Petit-Frère enlists performance as a means by which to think about our bodies and those of the people around us. At a moment in which human touch and presence in society is increasingly charged, Petit-Frère's artwork reveals human beauty and form, the power of identity, and the shifting currents of social dialogue. 

    Joanne Petit-Frère has been a staple of the underground conceptual hair scene in New York for almost a decade. Petit-Frère has participated in such storied events as "Hair Wars" at MoMA PS1 (2018, New York, NY), which brought together hair stylists like David Humphries from Detroit to flaunt their most fantastic designs. For "Hair Wars," Petit-Frère performed under the moniker "JoGoesWest.” Petit-Frère's performance highlighted “Redressing the Crown” works, which have been featured at such institutions as the New Orleans Museum of Art. As Petit-Frère comments, "We’re in the midst of a major movement now with consciousness of hair types, as well as art and imagery, being pushed to fantastical reaches in the digital era” (Vogue, 2018).

    Petit-Frère's latest works like "Tapestry of Braids #1 (Woven while Discovering bell hooks on YouTube)" (2020), combines hair color 1, 1B, 2, and 4 to create an ombré effect. Petit-Frère does all of the braiding by hand. This is a dying craft as machine-braided extensions become more common in American culture. "Tapestry of Braids #1 (Woven while Discovering bell hooks on YouTube)" demonstrates the alignment of Petit-Frère’s own practice, one rooted in the vernacular of the braid salon, with cultural theory and fine art practices. In negotiating these intellectual silos, Petit-Frère offers a fresh perspective on our time.

    Joanne Petit-Frère (b. 1987, New York, NY) received their BA from the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, NY). Petit-Frère's work was recently included in "A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes" at the Museum of Pop Culture (Seattle, WA) and “This Synthetic Moment (Replicant)," curated by David Hartt at Philip Martin Gallery (Los Angeles, CA). Petit-Frère's work has been included in performances and exhibitions at MoMA PS1 (New York, NY); New Orleans Museum of Art (New Orleans, LA); and The Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African and African American Art, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA). Petit-Frère has created custom hair sculptures for Beyoncé, Solange Knowles, Les Nubians, and Janelle Monáe, among others. Petit-Frère's work has been featured in publications such as "Vogue," "Vogue Italia," "Vogue Japan," "The New Yorker," "The Evening Standard," "AnOther Magazine," and "Cultured Magazine." Petit-Frère lives and works in New York, NY.
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