Jenine Shereos compares the celestial shedding of regenerative organic matter rather metaphorically by writing, “the delicate trace of a hair falling silently, imperceptibly, from one’s head becoming the veins of a leaf as it falls from a tree leaving its indelible imprint on the ground below.”
But beyond her lyrical language, this Boston-based artist has actually materialized the essence of her said description. Shereos’ ongoing Leaf Series is a project that involves intricately knitting and knotting human hair into objects that resemble leaves. Auburn strands intricately tie into an outline of an autumnal oak leaf, while a series of maple renditions appear to have been sourced from the scalp of a brunette.
“I do like to coordinate the actual color of the leaf with the color of the hair,” Shereos tells me.
The inspiration for Leaf Series started on a hike in Northern California, where Shereos came across several decomposing “skeletal leaves” that she felt compelled to collect. She continuously observed their anatomical structures, adoring their delicate little lines. The artist had worked with hair in the past and thus sought to “render that fine quality of the line in hair” with the leaves. After about a year’s worth of failed experiments, she finally figured out a functional technique: stitching strands of hair into water-soluble backing material and tying knots at the points where each strand intersects with another. This way, knots would keep intact when the backing dissolved.
“It definitely takes a few months for one leaf,” Shereos describes, adding that she spends the extensive sessions listening to audio books, but never counting the exact hours.
Observing at the rest of Shereos’ oeuvre, Leaf Series seems quite apposite: she propped lace knits into branches to interact with landscapes, submerged green knits in lakes to resemble seaweed, and froze actual tree leaves, twigs, and flowers into ice to reference glaciers.
Shereos currently has a model of a Japanese maple leaf in the works. She’s also thinking of eventually “casting small stick forms in bronze or other materials and having the leaves suspended from walls”–a prospective installation that would pay further artistic homage to earthly aesthetics.