Ever since 1957, Leila Cohoon has been obsessed with hair art.

Hair Everywhere 

Ever since 1957, Leila Cohoon has been obsessed with hair art.

Leila Cohoon wants to change the way people think about hair art. That, of course, presupposes that people think about hair art. Most people don't even know it exists.

Cohoon isn't among these ignoramuses. At least she hasn't been since 1957. One day that spring, she left her beauty salon and made a trip to the Plaza, where she planned to buy Easter shoes. On the way, she ventured into an antique shop and saw a hair design encased in a gold frame, with a message in German and the inscription "1852, Mama and Papa." Cohoon was so intrigued that she returned home without Easter shoes, having instead purchased the first piece in her hair-art collection.

Cohoon never intended to start a museum-sized collection of these things. She simply operated the Independence College of Cosmetology. But eventually she had no choice but to open Leila's Hair Museum. "I had too many of these things under my bed and in my closet," she recalls. "I couldn't hide them from my husband anymore."

This month, curious Kansas Citians can see Cohoon's hair wreaths and hair jewelry -- all made in the nineteenth century -- not just at Leila's Hair Museum but also on special display at the Bingham Waggoner Estate.

Meanwhile, Cohoon has turned the cosmetology college over to her daughter so she can concentrate on writing her book, Hair and Genealogy. In it, she plans to debunk the myth that hair art was inspired solely by the need to mourn loved ones who had left behind a few stray hairs.

Cohoon cites examples of hair art clearly created for archival purposes, such as a piece from 1865 that includes hair from all the members of the League of Women Voters. The league, Cohoon says, claims that its organization started in 1920. "But I have something here that says that's not so," Cohoon says. "This is history that says something different."

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Gina Kaufmann

  • Appetite for Destruction

    When we heard Tupperware was bulletproof, we asked some gun-loving Kansas City artists to put it to the test.
    • Feb 2, 2006
  • Heads of the Class

    These artists find that schoolhouses rock.
    • Dec 15, 2005
  • Art Capsule Reviews

    Our critics recommend these shows.
    • Dec 15, 2005
  • More »

Latest in Night & Day

Most Popular Stories

Facebook Activity

All contents ©2015 Kansas City Pitch LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Kansas City Pitch LLC,
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.

All contents © 2012 SouthComm, Inc. 210 12th Ave S. Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203. (615) 244-7989.
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of SouthComm, Inc.
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.
Website powered by Foundation