Barbershop Stand and Shelf
This rare example of Southern vernacular furniture was once used to hold haircutting and shaving implements in a Black-owned West Virginia barbershop. The stand and its freestanding shelf are constructed from reused pieces of old furniture. The artist added many bands of v-notched wood and finished the set with shades of red, blue, yellow, and black paint. Historically, barbershops have played an important function as a place of social networking and cultural production within African American communities, and they can also be sites of spiritual exchange. The High’s collection includes work by other artists, such as Elijah Pierce and Ulysses S. Davis, who were barbers, ministers, and accomplished wood carvers. Although the artist behind this work remains unidentified, they appeared to have a spiritual dimension, as well, given the altar-like quality of this object.