Assemblage class, San Francisco Art Institute, 1992.
Donna H. asked the class to contribute some hair to her project. I had recently had an epiphany about hair, hacking off my waist-length blonde locks to chin level and dying them blue-black, so I willingly sacrificed another handful to art.
A week later, Donna came back to class with two dozen tiny jars of varicolored hair. Their lids were collaged in all manner of styles. She invited us to choose one apiece; I chose mine for its study in contrasts, the greasy rag counterbalanced with dime-store jewelry shards, Chinese paper and tiny fish-hooks with sequins.
“Ah, the fish-hooks,” said Donna, nodding sagely at my choice.
I kept the jar of hair on my dresser until it shattered when the cat knocked it onto a tile floor. The fish-hooks remain, occasionally snagging sweaters or skin, reminding me that great art isn’t meant to be sweet or pretty.