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Work Samples

appropriation.jpg

hair, black, culture, black hair, headdress, ornamentation, fiber, texture
Brown Headdress in a series of headdresses addressing the issues of potential appropriation in the use or borrowing of synthetic hair in contemporary america, given our mixed history in relation to the black body.

at the table.jpg

synthetic hair, glass, table, dreadlocks, crochet, dreads, hair, wire
'At the Table' is part of a larger hair installation, featuring home goods in relation to hair. They begin the discussion about the cultural ties of hair and the care of hair in the context of family and relationships.

braid patterning.jpg

braids, plaits, plait, braid, pattern, patterning, canvas
emulating and celebrating the patterns of braids intrinsic in the everyday care of black hair. Synthetic hair is sometimes woven in but braid patterns are very evident in the protective styles which feature natural hair exclusively.

butt & thighs.jpg

butt, cheeks, thighs, headdress, wall piece
Originally titled 'butt and thighs'. This is a headdress that doubles as a wall piece. The lines come together to create two butt cheeks, two thighs and a butt hole.

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About Elizabeth

Baltimore City

Liz Miller is a second-generation international fine artist. She relocated to Baltimore in 2007, but not before earning her Bachelors’ of Science in Youth Ministry and Bible at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mi (2006). She works well in many media such as: ceramics, painting (both oil and acrylic), drawing (pencil and ink), paper crafts, costume design, stage/set design, fiber and sculpture. Dance/ Performance art is part of her repertoire; she performs locally and internationally  (... more

Hair Sculpture/Installation

Hair is a part of all of us. It is anchored in our skin. We live
within it. African American hair styles and designs have enjoyed a rich,
multi-hemispheric tradition spanning centuries that are both the product of
and a response to the systemic racism and atrocities which African-
Americans and their ancestors are all too well acquainted. Hair techniques
and treatments have been a slow-developing industry, often employed not only to
make black hair more manageable but more like the “Caucasian ideal.”
Many African-Americans have warm memories of hair braiding at home,
with relatives, or at the salon. The wig shop and beauty store are staple
locations evocative of identity and opportunity. Nevertheless, the hair
that one can “afford” and the styles chosen are symbols of class. To
braid and integrate fake hair are valued skill sets. We are beyond the boom
of chemical perms, with current styles being braids and crochets. African-
American hair color, texture, and style, no matter the cost, are distinctly
self-expressions of identity, especially for those who are economically
struggling.
News coverage has accurately reported how societal rules
disproportionately restrict black hair care choices in the workplace. In
many cases we see outright discrimination, especially in regards to
dreadlocks in corporate environments or the military. In a recent lawsuit
against Hooters, an African-American woman prevailed after being fired for
dyeing her hair a color that differed from its natural hue, when Caucasian
co-workers had not been held to the same standard.

The work explores the connection between African roots and
the contemporary United States. African textile patterning serves as inspiration for
the wire headdresses wrapped in synthetic hair and thread. To amplify this
follicular celebration, the hair is used in a domestic fashion appearing on furniture
and modeling familiar structures like windows and carpets. Pausing
before the work, the viewer becomes part of it. Based on the observer’s
ethnicity, he or she may engage in small-scale cultural appropriation
simply by viewing the work or participating by trying on the headdresses in
front of the mirror. This initiates a conversation with the audience in
with respect to the question of whose cultural traditions belong to whom.
Hopefully viewers will engage the question of how to be more celebratory of
our differences in culture without appropriating them.

Anchor Points

Exhibition Description:
The theme of my installation Anchor Points is “membership,” particularly as that concept applies to cultural groups. What qualifies one for initiation? Is it by birth alone, or can one be inducted by adopting specific roles and customs; and, if the latter, does that member ever truly "fit in"? What dues must be paid? Can elders be questioned? Is seniority relevant in relation to one's membership status? Anchor Points creates an imposing array of traversable webs spanning floor to ceiling. Visitors will question whether they have permission to step within the artistic perimeter. Their decision to engage the work, in fact, is a vital part of the piece. When we approach artifacts related to groups to which we do not belong to, do we question or honor perceived boundaries? What language can I as an outsider employ in comparison to the language they use amongst themselves? This concept continues on through many touch points.

This installation is two-fold: after the viewer is challenged to enter the installation's inner-space, the adventurous ones will encounter word phrases embroidered in the center pieces of the hair webs. These phrases, which are meant to be anchor points, are familiar to the artist's upbringing in the African-American community. To be a person of color in America is to embody many attributes of membership. Each web evinces the feeling of being stretched to its limits, but the phrase at the center has the power to reaffirm the person at his or her core. For instance, each phrase is taken from a different pillar of the African-American community. For example, "You might be a black Bill Gates in the making" is a quote from Beyonce's song Formation. Other phrases are taken from the film Black Panther, a gospel song by Israel Houghton, the African-American national anthem, and a quote from Maxine Waters. Each is intended to serve as grounding phrase which might empower an African-American. Music, faith, politics, and cinema are all major spheres in which African-Americans from various upbringings and classes unite around.

This piece may be accompanied by a performance art piece in which the artist engages the audience and asks them if they felt they had “permission" to enter the space. When questioning one’s own membership, one is compelled to ask what constrained or challenges the viewer about their right to participate and how this directly relates to membership to various groups that we interact in everyday. Whether that be class, culture, age, or interest- these groups have rules, dues, obligations, and benefits.



Sexual Assault Survivor Series

A series which focused on the stories of survivors of sexual assault, following a particular form, provided online which allowed an individual to have a piece made to be added to the series. The pieces were displayed as hanging vessels which precariously could break should their supporting line fail. A phrase in the survivor's own handwriting is added to the side of their vessel.

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Elizabeth's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.