Karen Hardy – Pull


© 2018
edition of 4 v.e.
dimensions in inches: 8 x 8 x 2.5

I often use unexpected materials in my work in order to capitalize on features that make the book form unique: tactility and motion. Hair is particularly engaging to me for the physical and conceptual opportunities it presents. It is visually compelling, haptically sensuous, and kinetically dynamic. Its connection to the body and all of the complex associations therein is a rich source, conjuring everything from desire to repugnance.

Over fifty locks of human hair comprise the “pages” of the book. They are held in Hedi Kyle’s blizzard pockets structure, and can be removed by the viewer. Since there are openings on both sides of the spine, the hair can be plucked from one side and replaced on the other in a continuous cycle.

The book is housed in a translucent box, compressed in an inset from which it expands like a spring when released. The handmade paper is reminiscent of skin, and the varying density of hair suggests the effects of the hair-pulling disorder that inspired the work.

The particular design of this work relates to tricotillomania, a mental disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out one’s hair. As in other body-focused repetitive behaviors, individuals experience tension immediately before performing the behavior, and derive some pleasure, gratification, or relief from the activity. People who suffer from tricotillomania may pull out their hair when stressed as a way to soothe themselves.


paper, acrylic, human hair, suede

About the artist:

Lives in Asheville, North Carolina, United States


Karen Hardy – Pull