THE BARBERSHOP PROJECT
THROUGH OCTOBER 6; WEDNESDAY & THURSDAY: 4-8PM; FRIDAY: 4-10PM; SATURDAY: 10AM-10PM; SUNDAY: 10AM-6PM ON T ST NW AT THE CORNER OF 14TH ST
CulturalDC ends its 20th Anniversary Season by bringing The Barbershop Project to the LGBTQIA+ friendly 14th St neighborhood following a summer-long residency at Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC). The Barbershop Project is a multidisciplinary arts activation inspired by the art of hair, performance of styling and the cultural institution that is the barbershop. The extension runs September 11-October 6 at the corner of T and 14th St NW.
The Barbershop Project is anchored by Mighty Mighty: a collaboration between artist Devan Shimoyama, Barber of Hell’s Bottom owner Kelly Gorsuch and designer/furniture maker Caleb Woodard. They have transformed CulturalDC’s Mobile Art Gallery into an immersive art installation and fully functioning barbershop.
In Mighty Mighty, Shimoyama’s paintings come to life, engaging individuals in a dialogue about how to evolve from stereotypes of performed hypermasculinity in barbershops and how to cultivate a safe, welcome environment for all.
While at THEARC, Mighty Mighty provided over 350 haircuts and participated in neighborhood events like the Craig Shields Foundation Community Cuts for Kids. CulturalDC programmed several artist events that were presented in conversation with the exhibit including: Sheldon Scott’s fade featured in the By the People festival, Holly Bass’ Come Clean & Cultural Preserves, pOPERA (pop-up opera) with The In Series, and portrait workshops with ArtReachGW.
“CulturalDC had a wonderful experience at THEARC and are grateful that our inclusive barbershop exhibit became a neighborhood staple. We’re looking forward to bringing Devan’s work to more communities in DC,” says Kristi Maiselman, Executive Director of CulturalDC.
“Our partnership with CulturalDC was a match made in heaven. THEARC is the largest social service, multi-sector, nonprofit collaboration in the country. This unique position provides an oasis of opportunity for engagement unparralled anywhere else in the city. Our collaboration with CulturalDC provided an experience East of the River residents will be talking about for generations,” says Rahsaan Bernard, President of Building Bridges Across the River.
“From my understanding of the Black barbershop, men come together to decompress and be candid with one another in a safe space. This space isn’t quite the same for LGBTQIA identifying people of color,” says artist Devan Shimoyama.
Devan Shimoyama is a visual artist working primarily in self-portraiture and narratives inspired from classical mythology and allegory. The work of Devan Shimoyama showcases the relationship between celebration and silence in queer culture and sexuality. Shimoyama’s compositions are often inspired by Caribbean folklore, science fiction, and the masters Caravaggio and Goya, though adding a more contemporary expression and sensuality. With the usage of various materials: splattered paint, stencils, glitter, rhinestones, and sequins, Shimoyama creates works that celebrate the Black body as both of magic and mystery. In his recent barbershop paintings, Shimoyama transforms the hyper-masculine social space into queer fantasy where feminine glamour and fashion take over, and tender depictions of boys don floral capes and glitter-encrusted hair.
Shimoyama was born in 1989 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and graduated from Penn State University in 2011 with a BFA in Drawing/Painting before obtaining his MFA at Yale University School of Art in 2014. He is represented by Kavi Gupta Gallery in Chicago and De Buck Gallery in New York. He is currently based in Pittsburgh, PA.
“At Barber of Hell’s Bottom we know that a haircut can be transformative for anyone, and it can be especially powerful for the LGBTQIA community. Collaborating with Devan on making his fantastical barbershop scenes tangible and interactive has been an exciting challenge. My barbers and I can’t wait to spend the summer at THEARC, cutting hair and creating a compassionate space,” says Kelly Gorsuch.
Kelly Gorsuch grew up in a hairdressing family. He has spent over two decades in all aspects of the industry, including coloring, cutting, barbering, runway, editorial, platform, teaching, managing, owning, and speaking. Kelly currently owns two luxury salons (Immortal Beloved) and four luxury men’s grooming salons (Barber of Hell’s Bottom) in Washington, D.C. and Richmond, VA. Kelly designs and builds all of his salons and barbershops. Those environments are steeped in what Kelly calls an Americanized version of Wabi Sabi that lends a natural and mysterious feel to the spaces.
“I see this as an opportunity to reveal what seems to escape many - that beauty and expression is above gender or race. It is a reminder to see the beauty in others and ourselves; our lives are far too fleeting to waste them on living up to the expectations of others,” says Caleb Woodard.
Caleb Woodard (b. 1979) is a second-generation woodworker and designer. With his aesthetics rooted in sculpture he founded his original furniture studio in 2005 in Washington, DC. In 2013 the studio was relocated to the solitude of his hometown outside of Nashville, TN where he executes his designs with his small team. His exploratory work ranges from sculptural lighting to intricately engraved and textured wall panels to chimerical furnishings.
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