Rules For A New World

Spartan Artist-in-Residence Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle

Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle says she thinks Sam’s trailer has a life of it’s own.  As the first “Spartan Artist In Residence” for The Trailer Trash Project, we asked her to explain what it’s like to make art inside the trailer. With her husband, Kevin Robinson, and friends Erinn Horton and James Brandon Lewis playing soulful, spiritual jazz,  she set up shop one afternoon during the AOW Conference, January 27-29.

“The floorboards move.  There’s energy in there,” she said, stopping to take in the vibe of the sixty-year old structure.   “There are some stories here.  It even smells like my grandmother’s attic. It’s high and low art – it’s a home and not a home. ”

Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle shows Emma Barrow the name tags (employing discriminatory terms) that she suggests people wear at gatherings, just to see how others react. Behind her is a map of her imagined continent. Emily is wearing her grandmother's dress in honor of her visit to the 1951 Spartan trailer.

Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky she moved to California from Baltimore, where she was a multimedia artist.  At Cal Arts she added course in critical studies and creative writing to integrate more writing into her visual art.

As she sat outside in late January, her back leaning against the trailer, she tried to figure out how to attach one half of a straight-haired blond wig to half of a black curly one.

Kenyatta creating the wig she wears in the flyer, below.

Up-coming event

She says the wig is to be worn by a Woman of Color during a job interview to show that: “Woman of Color can assimilate to the aesthetics of the office.”

“Before coming to CalArts, I did a lot of work around the power of hair.  When Delilah cut Samson’s hair, he lost his power.  Hair can also have a religious aspect.  In some  cultures, people in mourning don’t comb their hair.”

She studied awesome pictures of African women with elaborate hairstyles.  “If you see a deer with horns you don’t mess with it.” she explained, adding the bigger the horns, the more power it conveys.

Her mother was always strict about hair.  “We weren’t allowed to go out of the house unless our hair was combed. In traditional African culture, you have to be aligned before you got out into the world.  That means your hair has to be combed.”

"Power," 2008. A site specific structure by Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle.

Kenyatta’s mother creates elaborate hairstyles that take hours to complete. “A while ago I found pictures of women in Africa with the exact same hairstyles.  My mother had no idea!”

When Kenyatta and Kevin got together, he cut of his locks and gave them to her so she could weave them into her own hair.  It was kind of a present. “In certain tribes women pass down their hair extensions,” she explains.  “It’s called the gifting of hair. There’s power in hair,” she explains.  “Sampson lost his power when Delilah cut off his hair.”

Currently, she is creating her own continent.  She plans to mix a little piece of Kentucky, where some of ancestors are from, with a little piece of West Africa, where others originated.   A lot of her history is unknown to her, so she’ll just make that part up.

“I like to subvert things,” she said. “It’skind of like Photoshopping.”

Stay tuned for our post on Kenyatta’s up-coming exhibit at CalArts:                                     “The Knee Grow In The New World.”

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