Harper Woods resident is first hair sculptor featured at DIA

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published November 10, 2017

 Kristina Beaty, of Harper Woods, was the first hair sculptor to be featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts. She gave a demonstration of her work and how she makes her creations Oct. 28 and 29 at the DIA.

Kristina Beaty, of Harper Woods, was the first hair sculptor to be featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts. She gave a demonstration of her work and how she makes her creations Oct. 28 and 29 at the DIA.

Photo provided by Kristina Beaty

 Beaty, from Studio Glamour Salon in Grosse Pointe, pushes the boundaries of what can be done with hair and proves daily that work like hers is a legitimate form of art.

Beaty, from Studio Glamour Salon in Grosse Pointe, pushes the boundaries of what can be done with hair and proves daily that work like hers is a legitimate form of art.

Photo provided by Kristina Beaty

 Among the demonstrations that Beaty gave at the DIA were several styles done in the theme of the Mexican Day of the Dead.

Among the demonstrations that Beaty gave at the DIA were several styles done in the theme of the Mexican Day of the Dead.

Photo provided by Kristina Beaty

DETROIT — Art is frequently displayed via paint, stone or clay, but there are some artists showing that hair can also be used as a creative outlet.

Harper Woods resident Kristina Beaty, owner of the Studio Glamour Salon in Grosse Pointe, is what is known as a hair sculptor. She uses hair styling and cutting to create works of art using a person as a canvas. The Detroit Institute of Arts took notice and hosted Beaty in a demonstration of her work as the first hair sculptor featured at the museum.

Beaty said she started out, as many people who go into the salon business do, for fun.

“I’ve always had that niche for making hair neat and polished,” explained Beaty. “I started doing styles that were popular, and when I started getting into hair competitions in school, I started making hair sculptures. I was asked to compete by the Wolverine State Cosmetology Association, and I was invited to compete by my cosmetology instructor.”

Beaty proved she had quite a talent for the work and has since gone on to be one of the nation’s leading artists in hair sculpting.

A previous member of the DIA’s staff was familiar with Beaty and thought she would be the perfect person to demonstrate a frequently overlooked art form. 

Once a month, the DIA does an artist demonstration to showcase different types of art and how it is created. Looking for nontraditional forms of art, Beaty was the perfect candidate for such a program, and she spent Oct. 28 and 29 creating some of her work as visitors to the DIA watched.

“Our former studio manager, LaVerne Homan, reached out to Kristina Beaty because she was a client of hers,” said Emily Bowyer, the DIA’s Family Program Coordinator. “When you see what Kristina can do with hair, you can see it really is an art, and this is an unusual medium, and we like to introduce our visitors to new and different types of art.”

Beaty said her designs usually have a very polished look compared to other hair sculptures. She also makes it a point to show that anyone can be beautiful, not just those who conform to a particular look or body type.

“I have a uniqueness, as all artists do in their work,” said Beaty. “It’s a polished look. It’s relatable. I use women of all sizes, all ages, with all textures of hair. The outcomes, I think, make me stand apart.”

Beaty has gone on to take top honors at several hair sculpting competitions throughout the country, which highlights the reasons the DIA wanted her to be the first of her medium to be showcased at the museum.

“The most prestigious was the Bronner Bros. (International Beauty Show) in Atlanta and the Proud Lady (Beauty Show) in Chicago. They were both amazing experiences,” remarked Beaty. “You have people coming from all over the country to compete. It’s really heavy competition, and you see people put so much into their work. It’s a great experience with the judges and models and everyone bringing their best.”

Bowyer said the DIA staff were pleased with Beaty’s demonstrations. She was not only able to give a highly entertaining and educational presentation, but was able to engage the audience and even involve audience members in some cases, Bowyer said.

“Her artistry is at the forefront of the demonstration’s success. It draws you in,” said Bowyer. “She was exciting and accessible; visitors felt they could ask as many questions as they wanted and engage with Kristina. We are trying to present experiences where visitors can directly connect with art and artists. … We had more than 400 people each day who either watched, asked questions or even got their hair worked on by Kristina. Any presentation where visitors are engaged and asking questions is a good sign of success.”

Bowyer said the museum is now looking for other opportunities to highlight Beaty and other hair sculptors.

“I think we could do a bigger presentation with a bigger venue,” said Bowyer. “Some of our conservators were hesitant at first, because hairsprays or makeup could potentially damage the collection, but we made sure to take the proper precautions. I think that with their concerns taken into account, we could do a larger (hair sculpting) program in the future.”

As for Beaty, she hopes her presentation will encourage others to take an interest in her medium and to perhaps look at what she does in a new light.

“I hope people are open-minded to art being more than painting or pottery,” said Beaty. “Hair artistry is relevant and significant. I want people to realize it’s more than just a hairstyle; it’s a statement that has a lot of artistry that goes into it, and the results are rarely able to be duplicated.”