‘Shoplifter’ in the McDonough
Hrafnhildur Arnardottir, a native of Iceland and the artist known as “Shoplifter,” will lecture at the McDonough Museum of Art at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Stephen Chalmers, chair of the Visiting Artist Committee and an assistant professor of photography at Youngstown State University, said Arnardottir was picked for the lecture primarily because of her unique medium: hair.
“We liked how different she is from both the faculty who teach here and then also the artists that we typically bring in,” Chalmers said. “Human hair and synthetic hair is not really something that we, like, necessarily want to be a part of, and it’s also not typically a material that we think of as an art form.”
Arnardottir’s work — which she describes as “hairy, vulgar, beautiful, humorous and mysterious” — has been displayed all over the world. Her pieces have been shown at the Museum of Modern Art and in the Nordic Fashion Biennial. She won the Nordic Award in Textiles in 2011, and has created and styled pieces for Icelandic pop star Bjork.
Arnardottir said working with Bjork was an inspiration.
“[It] helped me understand better how much I like to work on collaborations and step out of the preset ideas of what art can be or become,” she said.
Danny Sperry, an assistant professor in digital media and a member of the Visiting Artist Committee, said it is interesting that Arnardottir has been able to get so much out of just one medium and one idea.
“She’s actually been able to create a pretty wide range of expression out of [hair],” he said. “I’m excited to see and hear more.” Arnardottir said she hopes those who want to become artists remain encouraged to do so.
“I like to meet students and communicate with them about what it means to be an artist and how to reach your goals as a professional,” she said. “Keep doing good work, and work hard towards your goals as an artist. … Strengthen your conceptual world and philosophy of art-making.”