Imperial Nail Salon: My Parents Living Room at MCA Chicago


This summer I have been working at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago within the Homebodies exhibition for artist Carlos “Dzine” Rolon. Homebodies invites contemporary artists to examine the home as an integral space to create art. Chicago artist Dzine’s interpretation is entitled Imperial Nail Salon: My Parents Living Room as an homage to his 1970’s home which doubled as a nail salon business ran by his mother. “As a child of first-generation Puerto Rican immigrants in the United States, well-paying jobs were scarce. So in order to supplement extra income, my mother created a salon in our home,” Dzine explains. Working with Dzine in the past, he invited me to be an artist working in the space to carry the essence of his mothers salon business.


Alexander McQueen inspired nail pieces created by AstroWifey for Imperial Nails

We are at the museum every other Saturday (additional Sunday dates have been added due to popularity) providing custom art manicures which includes an extreme “junk” nail of choice that are embellished with everything from feathers, words, crystals, chains, pearls, metal pieces, replica’s of birds and butterflies and more. Its a true nail art experience to talk about and observe. Dzine’s idea with this project is make you think about the friendships that develop and stories that are shared when your home is not only a personal environment, but professional as well.


Everything from the carpet to the wallpaper has been replicated to reflect his exact childhood home, complete with authentic features such as a Don Julio lamp and television. Pictures in frames placed around the room and home videos playing on his actual television give you a perspective of just how exact the space is. I can relate to this piece on many levels and the more I work within it the more I notice how others can relate as well. With my father being of Puerto Rican decent, the records of Hector Lavoe and famous salsa hits playing within the space sound all too familiar to me. The carpet and macramé planters remind me of grandma’s house. It seems that many others from all walks of life, cultures and ethnicity seem to relate as well. Almost everyone seems to identify to the space in some way and wants to take a picture on the orange plastic covered couch. We invite you to come sit on the couch with us, share your story and take a step into our world as we have an open door waiting for you. Learn more about the project HERE.



Photo Credit: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

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