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'From Canvas to Runway' shows off hair with flair

After Sharon Robinson is done with your head, only you and Jesus will know.

Her words, not mine. Let's allow Robinson to continue.

"I bring Hollywood glamour to Columbia when it comes to hair," she said. "I am the best. My weaves are undetectable."

Robinson, who is known as The Diva Hair Weaver, isn't shy about her talents. With her hair-weaving swagger comes a knowledge of what hair is to women: beauty, confidence, art.

Tonight at the Columbia Museum of Art, Robinson will produce a fashion show in conjunction with the museum's current exhibition, "The Chemistry of Color: Contemporary African-American Artists."

"From Canvas to Runway: An African-American Hair and Hat Show" will combine Robinson's hairstyles with local designers, including hat maker William Jason Myers.

The catwalk in the museum's atrium will be graced by young aspiring models, including Bianca Richardson, the Columbia native who was a finalist on "America's Next Top Model."

Angell Conwell, the Orangeburg native who has acted in TV shows such as "My Wife and Kids," "That's So Raven" and "The Parkers," will host the show.

If the outfits, hats and modeling don't strike you, the hair certainly will. The 'dos will be woven, blown out and braided. The guy models will have their hair painted, and some will have designs cut into their hair. Think Kanye West at the VMAs.

Weave hasn't always reflected positively on women, black women especially. Hairstyle and length is a personal decision, but hair texture usually is not.

Chris Rock's docu-film "Good Hair" did an exceptional job explaining what hair means in the black community, particularly weaving.

"It's not just buying a bag of hair and sewing it on," said Robinson, who owns The Diva Hair Weaver Salon & Studio. "It takes a lot of talent to be able to blend the hair in and make it look as realistic as possible.

"Anybody can buy a pack and get someone to throw it in, but everybody can't blend it and style it. Everybody doesn't have talent to pull it off to make it look real."

Robinson has been weaving for two decades. The next tidbit might surprise some: half of her clientele is white.

In recent years, the use of extensions by stars such as Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Kate Gosselin (it's debatable if the later qualifies as a star) has exploded. And it has affected how women of all backgrounds wear their hair.

On Monday, Robinson's models practiced the runway walk at her Two Notch Road salon, hands on their upper hip, eyes straight ahead. During tonight's show, images that inspired the looks will be projected in the atrium.

Dwight Davis, Robinson's runway guru who is more sensitive with models than Miss J, Tyra Banks' coach on "Top Model," said the fashion and art will merge.

"Each scene is supposed to coincide with a piece of artwork," said Davis, who walked into the salon with a "Chemistry of Color" catalog and an Elle magazine.

The colors found in the exhibition's pieces have inspired the entire presentation of the fashion show right down to the European - you'll notice the hip swinging and pointed-foot turns - walking.

"It's like words unspoken. Just the vibrancy of the color," said Davis, who spent more than 10 years as a model in Milan.

The art says something else.

"It's not as ethnic," Davis said. "It's left to interpretation."

Robinson coached the models, too. She emphasized confidence, much like her hair designs.

She also, in a way, emphasized art.

"You're going to bring full drama on stage," she said. "You're going to command the space."

Just like the pieces in the exhibition.

IF YOU GO

"From Canvas to Runway: An African-American Hair and Hat Show"

WHEN: 7 tonight

WHERE: Columbia Museum of Art, Main and Hampton streets

TICKETS: $5 to $15

INFORMATION: http://www.columbiamuseum.org

OTHER EVENTS

- Talent scout Sheila Legette will hold a free meet-and-greet from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the museum.

- Actor Angell Conwell will host a workshop at 1 p.m. Saturday at the museum. Tickets cost $50.

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