providence public library PPL

“HairBrained” at PPL: Upcoming MARCH Programs

Providence Public Library 2018 Exhibition & Program Series Runs March 1 – June 30


Four-month HairBrained Exhibition & Programs Series Offers a Full Schedule of Discussions, Workshops & Educational Activities for All Ages


PROVIDENCE, RI – Providence Public Library’s (PPL) fourth annual Exhibition & Program series HairBrained is focused on hair.  Specifically, the exhibition explores the ways in which hair defines and reflects culture, self-identity, agency and politics.  Meanwhile, the program series, which is inspired by images and texts in the exhibition, will offer cultural programs and educational activities for all ages that explore how and why we have grown, cut, shaved, shaped, woven, adorned and covered the hair on our heads, from centuries ago ’til today.

HairBrained Exhibition

Hair is simultaneously frivolous and serious, personal and universal. It’s a means to communicate complex messages to everyone we encounter.  In this exhibition, we focus on hairstyles around the world and throughout history via a selection of items from PPL’s Special Collections. Exhibition materials will include books, prints, magazines, and photographs.  Items will be on exhibit in the Providence Journal Rhode Island Room on Level 1 during the Library’s regular hours from March – June 2018.r

Our calendar of upcoming HairBrained cultural and educational programs and events for all ages, running March through June, is available at

Upcoming MARCH HairBrained programs include:

The Evolution of Hair in Black History, 1400 – 2018   (Photo attached – “Black Hair”)

Wednesday, March 7 — 6 – 8 pm; 3rd Floor Meeting Room

Join us and learn about our history by learning about our hair through this interactive conversation with Aminah Fonseca and Shahidah Ali, founders of Mixx Hair Bar & Beauty Supply Store.  Our hair has been integral to defining who we are, our culture, and our place in the world – from Africa, through slavery, through the political movements of the 1960s.  Our relationship with our hair is an intricate story of our experiences, joys, and struggles, as we have sought not only acceptance in society but acceptance within ourselves. Sign up:

Big Nazo Headdress Workshop Series

Sundays, March 11, 18 & 25 — 2 – 4 pm, PPL 5th Floor Classroom
It’s time get your mind working to create your own, custom-designed headdress using varied media!  For ages 7-12.  Limited space. Registration required – no walk-ins. Registrants must sign up for/attend all sessions. Sign up:


Book Talk with Dr. Quincy Mills  (Photo attached “Quincy Mills”)

Monday, March 12 — 6 – 8 pm, PPL 3rd Floor Meeting Room

Dr. Quincy Mills, Associate Professor of History and Director of Africana Studies at Vassar College, author of Cutting Along the Color Line: Black Barbers and Barber Shops in America (2013) Join us for a discussion of barbers and patrons; shaves and haircuts; identity formation and civic engagement; and hair, lots of hair. Black barber shops encompass these activities of labor, consumption, and racial politics. Barber shops are more than businesses in the service sector that tend to hair, they are also public spaces that illuminate the work of identity in daily life. Mills helps us explore the culture and commerce of black-owned barber shops during slavery and freedom in order to situate the larger politics of hair in both the public and private sphere.  Sign up:

Artist Kenya (Robinson) Lecture & Analysis

Wednesday, March 14 — 6 – 8 pm, PPL 3rd Floor Meeting Room

Artist Kenya (Robinson) explores main mainstream aesthetics and offers a critical analysis of blondness, baldness, and beauty related to our collective hair politic, identification of gender, and normalization of whiteness.  Sign up:

Hair as Holder of Memory/Artistic Medium   (Photo attached “Hair-HolderofMemory”)

Wednesday, March 21 — 6 – 8 pm, PPL 3rd Floor Meeting Room

Join us for a conversation between two artists about how the practice of hairwork speaks across centuries and cultures.  Master jeweler/historian Karen Bachmann studies, creates and teaches the art and craft of Victorian hairwork, which became very popular in both jewelry and shadowbox form in the 19th and early 20th centuries when death rates were very high. Incorporating the hair of departed loved ones into jewelry and art, hairwork transformed a wearable human relic into a fashion statement. Artist and RISD MFA candidate Nafis White creates her work from objects commonly found in beauty supply stores, industrial and irrigation components and the seemingly limitless horizons of our global and political landscapes. Drawing her inspiration from the rich Diaspora of experiences and traditions of Black beauty and self care built upon centuries of embodied knowledge that honors, celebrates, and values the innovation, technology and imagination carried through and passed on by the fingertips of Black people. Through play and continuous exploration, White employs her research on the intricate customs of Victorian hair weaving and appropriates them using Black hair, beauty products, and hairstyling techniques where they were never imagined to take up space and esteem.  Sign up: