Nails Across America
Nails Across America (2012-2014) was a long-term project that began when I attended and graduated from a nail trade school program to become a NY State licensed nail technician. The project aimed to connect with a broad audience through the intimate act of performing manicures. By transforming a 1968 Shasta Compact travel trailer into a mobile salon, my goal was to create a space to exchange ideas and conversation. Becoming licensed was the initial step before starting a 13k mile cross-country road trip, which I completed over two months in 2013. The curated nail art menu referenced recurring themes in my art such as popular culture, junk food, and art history. The end goal of Nails Across America was to create a “living edition” — to meet and give manicures to 500 people. With in-kind donations and fundraising, I was able to give all of the manicures for FREE.
Because I came into physical contact with hundreds of people, it was important to me that the project be credible in terms of technique and execution. I graduated from a 16-week program at TW Nail Technology in June 2012. My training covered topics such as nail diseases and disorders, anatomy and physiology, bacteriology, disinfection and sanitation. As of March 2013, I passed both written and practical state board exams and am duly licensed in NY State.
Points of Inspiration for Nails Across America
Dan Barry's New York Times article, "At the Corner of Hope and Worry," was published when I was feeling anxious and down about the project (will this work? will people care? can I afford it?), and it became a source of inspiration for whom I wanted to reach on the trip. I saw the tapestry of Elyria's community (and my community in rural Wassaic, NY) as a model for the types of oral histories I wanted to collect and circumstances I might encounter with the mobile salon.