Hair Today. Gone Tomorrow ~ an exhibit at the Central Library

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The Richmond Hill Public Library strives to present new information, and not just in books.

The library is launching a dynamic art exhibition program in their Glass Case Gallery - glass display cases just inside and to the right of the main entrance at the Central Library.

On display until Feb. 24 is “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow”, a powerful art exhibition that explores symbols of memory and healing in Black communities.

The exhibit is by artist Ehiko Odeh and currated by Tamunoibifiri "Firi" Fombo.


This is the exhibits's accompanying text. 

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow is a visual installation that delves into the history and evolving narratives surrounding Black hair care. Featuring a curated collection of haircare products, tools and artworks by Ehiko Odeh, the exhibition explores the transient nature of time and embodies themes of memory while highlighting harmful impacts and representation of white-washed gaze on Black hair and beauty.

Ehiko Odeh presents a compelling showcase of haircare products dating back to the 50s sourced from West Indian Golden Beauty Supply, a historic Black-owned beauty supply store on Bathurst Street - the Bathurst and Bloor neighbourhood was once called Blackhurst. Originally established during the significant wave of Caribbean migration in the 70s, the store served as an important destination for haircare and beauty needs. Unfortunately, it faces closure today.

These hair products serve as archival materials to what was once the flagship of haircare among Black populations. Ehiko Odeh pays attention to the contents, ingredients and language around advertising. Accompanied in the box of archival haircare products are digital paintings and collages that speak to afro-hairstyles - the care we give our hair is often intricate and there is a need to pay attention to the content of what goes in our hair as much as the finished product of beauty.

Adjacent to the archival box featuring digital paintings by Odeh and archival products and magazines are two paintings; 'Salon Poster #8', 2022-2023 and 'Golden Beauty', 2023. Salon Poster #8 shows four haircare products from the 50s 80s connected to a two-sided afro comb intertwined through braids displaying Odeh's attention to detail and understanding of colour. The products featured in this installation span the 1950s - early 2000.

'Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow' serves as both memorabilia and contemporary bookmarks to Ehiko's interpretation of a somewhat bygone era and the present. Odeh's ongoing research and artistic exploration delve into the nuanced relationships and memories we hold on a personal and communal level - in relation to haircare products, tools and societal representations and perceptions of beauty.

The installation invites viewers to reflect on their relationship with hair care, particularly the care rituals we have and the subliminal and not-so-subliminal messages sent to us through marketing and advertising. The show also invites viewers to recollect memories and learn more about the impact of what was, what is and what could be.