Crystal Barr


Kami by Crystal Barr

Hierarchy by Crystal Barr

detail Hierarchy by Crystal Barr

Shinto teaches that everything has a kami, or a spiritual essence, and kami interface with humans in specific places or objects.  A Keukegen is a spirit made of hair, and also means "an usual thing rarely seen."  Kami is the Japanese word for divine forces of nature, or spirits, and are respected as guardians of land, water, and certain qualities and virtues.  Kami Kiri is the hair-cutting spirit who seeks to attract those who are capable of dealing with the strange and otherworldly aspects of our reality. 

Human hair and animal hair are considered leftovers in our modern culture, not usually collected and saved.  For these pieces I collected hair from people over the course of six months, spending much time with these intimate materials to create the kami, and to imbue them with a sacred power. 

My work is influenced by the sacred and profane, how the forbidden and set-apart relates to the mundane experience of the individual.  The materials I choose--beeswax (sacred), polyurethane foam (profane), gold thread, cloth, bronze, hair-- are of great importance to me as they reference this dichotomy.  I think of my installations as fragments of memory that are grounded in the tactile and allude to the human body and its functions. Through my arrangements I construct visual metaphors that invite the viewer to explore and find connections within. 

Crystal Barr
Summer 2011