Transformer is pleased to present Commemorative Strands, an exhibition featuring textiles, photography, and video art by Artise Fletcher in her first solo exhibition. Commemorative Strands will explore the sociological meanings and issues surrounding hair, especially in Black culture, through the presentation of large tapestries that are the artists’ reimagined versions of commemorative cloths using synthetic Kanekalon hair, along with photographs and projected video works.
Fletcher’s inspiration stems from her recent research on textile artists in different African countries as well as from the woman weavers of Chinchero, Peru, in which textiles are used as a form of expression, especially for marginalized voices. These various commemorative clothes commonly feature intricate patterns, symbolic colors, and photographic imagery that, especially in African fabric prints, honor individuals, political figures, occasions, and more.
In Commemorative Strands, Fletcher is reinterpreting these traditional cloths to highlight individual stories of Black women’s personal journeys and relationships with hair using Kanekalon hair, a synthetic hair composed of fine plastic fibers created in various colors. In depicting modern subjects in her commemorative cloths, Fletcher investigates the history of Black hairstyles and the societal conventions of beauty, and generates contemporary conversations about the various sociopolitical implications that hair has.
Commemorative Strands includes several public programs that will raise public awareness about the nuanced conversations surrounding hair, including a workshop that encourages visitors to reflect upon their personal experiences with hair, and a panel exploring the connections between health and hair.
Commemorative Strands is Transformer’s 19th Annual DC Artist Solo Exhibition, continuing our commitment to highlight the work of exceptional DC-based emerging artists through solo exhibition platforms.
Artise Fletcher is a self-taught visual artist born and raised in Washington, DC. Fletcher’s practice explores the relationship Black women have with hair – how it affects their health, identity, self-esteem, and environment, and unpacks the significance of hair as a personal form of expression. Fletcher narrates individual stories to assert our unique nature. Through Fletcher’s use of imagery and unconventional textiles she celebrates inclusion through the narratives that unfold through her work.