Faculty Profile

Professor Daniel Jauregui Spends Time With Students
Weaving Together a Unique Art Piece

by Hallie Gayle `15

ART PROFESSOR DANIEL JAUREGUI SPENDS HOURS with students in the art studio weaving together long strands of black hair. It’s an intricate method: lifting one strand over the other from 16 different directions over a disc. The hair turns to braids and then to knots. Over time, a long thick rope begins to emerge.

The ropes of black hair serve a purpose - to help Jauregui create somber paintings and drawings of worndown buildings full of dark and faded colors that tell the history of a time and place that existed not that long ago. In this gallery of loss, Jauregui attempts to capture the historical tragedy of the AIDS epidemic and the toll it took in the gay community, specifically in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake, which he calls home.

“I want to explore the legacy of that neighborhood,” Jauregui shares. “Its history has been lost and my work has been an attempt to deal with the loss of that history.” 

His work is inspired by the Victorian era mourning jewelry, created by Queen Victoria after the death of her husband. The jewelry weaves a lock of hair into rings as a way to hold on to a little piece of a loved one who has passed away.

Jauregui’s own students have joined him in the project’s creation process. Handpicked for their skills in craft, the students have learned the Japanese-weaving technique called ‘Kumihimo braiding’ and are provided with purchased hair to braid independently and transform into thick ropes.

Ultimately, the goal of Jauregui’s project is to prepare a 2013 or 2014 showing at his art gallery in New York. “I want people to be surprised and feel a little somber [when they see my work], and to focus on that notion of death and trauma. I want people to really start processing the devastation of the AIDS crisis and to become part of the process of mourning.”

Jauregui also hopes to address – on a more personal level - his relationship to Silver Lake. As a gay man himself, Jauregui expresses, “there’s a whole generation that has died, a lineage, a whole gap that isn’t here to share with us what happened. I want to look back from my perspective as a member of a different generation.”

This is Jauregui's fourth year at Whittier College, he teaches courses in photography and art theory.