....BLAXIDERMY...mad exuberant...womanspreading....


Residency and Exhibition announcements from the studio of Pamela Council 

April 2019

I’m excited to announce that I will be an Artist-in-Residence at Red Bull House of Arts in Detroit, Michigan this summer. Grateful to Red Bull for the support of time and space to continue my current body of work.

I was recently Artist-in-Residence at Signal Culture in Owego, New York!

Dear Friends, I’m back in NYC!

I have a Patreon.

- October 2018


Join me on Juneteenth in Houston on June 24th as I make an offering to my ancestors with my first ever outdoor fountain.


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I am honored to be a recipient of the 2017 Joan Mitchell Painters & Sculptors Grant! 

Grateful to be a part of this great cohort of artists. Here's more on this year's grantees: http://joanmitchellfoundation.org/artist-programs/artist-grants/painter-sculptors/2017



I was nominated for the 2017 New York Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artists Grant

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Image: Tenderheaded, 2017, a fountain of Luster's Pink Oil Hair Moisturizer Lotion


A Solo Exhibition of new works by Pamela Council, Rush Artist In Residence 2017 – Rush Arts Gallery

September 7th - EXTENDED THROUGH OCTOBER 12TH, 2017


Opening Reception: Thursday, September 7th, 6-8pm

Artist Talk: Saturday, September 9th, 2-4pm


526 West 26th Street, Suite 311, NYC


Tenderheaded is the first solo exhibition of works by Rush Artist in Residence, Pamela Council. This thematic, multi-media experience features new works from multiple ongoing series, including the Velvets, Ring Holders, and Fountains. The works on display consider the interplay between private and public space, architecture and domestic life.

Describing the exhibition’s title and theme, Pamela Council states, “To be a ‘tenderheaded’ girl means having such a sensitivity to the experience of having one’s hair combed as to be stigmatized for it. Tenderheaded girls are the ones for whom the pain of beauty, especially when receiving those braided and tightly pulled ‘protective styles,’ can be overwhelming.” Council explores precious objects and wields materials with this sensitivity in mind. In sculptures, installations, paintings, and prints she re-contextualizes familiar materials, particularly those nostalgic ones that resonate with the notion of “Black Girl Magic” and those which she calls “self-soothing.” Embedded in these works you will find samplings of velvet, sneaker rubber, crack pipes, incense, soap, sex toys, lotion, plastic pony beads, toys, blankets, and flotation devices, among other objects. Each one carries its own cultural history and is imbued with new meaning through the artist’s touch, manipulation, and language.

Hanging from a giant safety pin, a shampoo hat’s pink ruffle is the backdrop for a life-saver shaped layering of items: a 5-finger engagement ring display, a floral foam ring, and a hair donut. This piece is called Lifesaver, and in it are many of the themes that Council’s sculptural works in Tenderheaded explore: the protection of children, the ritual of protective hairstyling, acts of care and tending, gardens, staying afloat, and gendered rites of passage. 

A major Velvet installation, hung up by toys and sneaker rubber, anchors the space. A patchwork of silk velvet panels, custom printed satin sleep scarves, and hand-me-down blankets span the gallery. Burned out of the nap of the velvet’s surface is an original text that remixes Beyoncé and Keith Sweat songs and confronts the viewer from the perspective of a hyper-sexualized young girl: “I may be young but you’re ready.” Council’s Velvets are a product of catharsis through play with self-soothing and comfort materials, centered around devoré (burned out) velvet with text and patterns. The artist likens the devoré process to tracing trauma lines in fabric and picking scabs after a bad hair relaxer.

The exhibition itself is designed like a small garden that must be navigated in order to confront the multiple bodies of work. The garden is filled with the fragrance of Luster’s Pink Oil Moisturizer Hair Lotion and the sound of pony beads trickling, each occupying a fountain hidden behind a Hedge. Pink Lotion cascades in a touch of nostalgic Americana, which may require a trigger warning for the truly tenderheaded. Luster’s is a Black-owned hair product manufacturer based in Chicago, and in the fountain sculpture Tenderheaded, Council highlights the role of one of their signature products in the domestic ritual of creating protective styles for young girls. Council’s other fountain honoring protective styles is Fountain of Your Youth, in which pony beads flow like water, exploring Venus Williams’ 1999 “bead incident” and the face-smacking beaded styles of black girlhood, mostly created between a caretaker’s legs.

Honoring women as cultural and material producers is a key consideration of Council’s presentation. Relief, silicone relief tiles in the form of sneaker outsoles, and Let Go Byes Be Go Byes, a conveyor belt sculpture painted in hues of pink, draws on the artist’s memories of working in sneaker factories. 

Alongside these works are sculptures from the Ringholders series—a series of small, surrealist fleshy sculptures composed of doll-makers’ clay and craft items mounted on engagement ring displays. Tenderheaded is a sensitive, material-driven walk through the ages.


Rush Arts Gallery is located at 526 W 26th St Suite 311, New York, NY 10001. Gallery hours are Wed. – Sat. 12-6pm. For further questions about this exhibition please contact Charlotte Mouquin at charlotte@rushartsgallery.org 


About Pamela Council

Pamela Council was born in Southampton, New York in 1986. Her sculptures, prints, and performances have been featured at Williams College Museum of Art, African American Museum of Philadelphia, Fort Gansevoort Gallery, Southampton Historical Museum, VOLTA and MoCADA. She has created commissions for and is in the collections of Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Studio Museum in Harlem. She earned a B.A. from Williams College, an M.F.A. from Columbia University, and was a participant in Adidas Group’s global Footwear Creation Trainee program. She has been an Artist-in-Residence at Mana Contemporary, Catwalk Artist Project, eWassaic Project and will be Artist-in-Residence at Galveston Artist Residency.


Rush arts gallery artist-in-residence 2017 & solo exhibition at rush 

I have the honor of being Rush Arts Gallery Artist-in-Residence for 2017!

My summer residency culminates in a solo exhibition, which is scheduled to open September 7, 2017. Save the date. :)

Established in 2011, the Rush Artist-in-Residence Program provides an artist with a summer studio space in the Rush Arts Gallery, in the heart of Manhattan's world-renowned art district in Chelsea, NYC.

With the creative studio space, artists can build on a body of work and invite mentors or colleagues in to discuss their artistic development and visual aesthetics. The residence program culminates with a solo pop-up exhibition at the Rush Arts Gallery Project Space. Candidates for the AIR program are selected by the Rush Gallery Director with recommendations from our Rush Arts Gallery Artist Advisory Board, which includes Larry Ossei Mensah, Sanford Biggers, Glenn Ligon, Wangechi Mutu, Hank Willis Thomas, Cey Adams, Dexter Wimberly, and more. Past Rush Artists-in-Residence include: Alexandria Smith, Cullen Washington Jr., Allison Janae Hamilton, Stan Squirewell, and Oasa DuVerney. 


artist talk & visiting artist at wassaic project

This January, I returned to the Wassaic Project as Visiting Artist, where I conducted studio visits with residents and gave an artist talk. Thank you for having me, Wassaic Project! 

Pamela Council and Artist Tiffany Smith at the Lantern Inn, Wassaic, NY following Pamela's artist talk. Tiffany was in town installing her exhibition at Wassaic Project. Photo by Liz Zito.

Pamela Council and Artist Tiffany Smith at the Lantern Inn, Wassaic, NY following Pamela's artist talk. Tiffany was in town installing her exhibition at Wassaic Project. Photo by Liz Zito.


Residency at MANA BSMT, Spring/summer/fall 2016

For 7 months in 2016, I was an artist-in-residence at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, NJ. Here is a video profile that they made while I was there: 



Is Your House in Order? performance

at Black Art Incubator @ Recess, thursday July 28, 2016


In this performance of “Is Your House In Order?” artist Pamela Council will host a conversation prompted by this question and invites the public to stop by and begin writing their wills!

During this session she will also reveal her own will, which will have been written in acid in the nap of velvet. She will use an iron to burn the velvet, allowing the devoré process to reveal the text of her will. Throughout the day, the burning of fabric will remove the velvet’s nap and leave velvet ashes and dust.


On July 14, Taylor Renee Aldridge, Jessica Bell Brown, Kimberly Drew, and Jessica Lynne will launch Black Art Incubator—a project that will use Recess’s storefront space as a hub for public programming and the dissemination of resources for artists and arts professionals. Black Art Incubator is a social sculpture designed to create an intervention in the “art world” through a series of public events that bring together artists, curators, community members, critics, and scholars. Using collaboration and public engagement as guiding methodologies, the Black Art Incubator will seek to provoke new understandings of the myriad sectors that comprise the contemporary art world.



(Thursday) July 28, 2016 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm EST



41 Grand St, New York NY 10013


More info: 


Flo Jo World Record Nails, 2012

Flo Jo World Record Nails, 2012

Salon Style at Studio Museum in Harlem

Group exhibition featuring work by Pamela Council, Hank Willis Thomas, Deborah Willis, Mark Bradford, Kevin Beasley, Chakaia Booker, Chris Ofili and more. 

144 West 125th Street, New York, NY

March 26, 2015- June 28, 2015

From the Studio Museum in Harlem: Hair and nails are universal sites of expression, sites where one’s identity and personhood can be asserted, however temporarily. Through an interdisciplinary examination, Salon Style looks at artists that use hair and fingernails as subjects or media in order to explore the complexities of identity, and issues such as gender, politics and consumerism. As a way to actively merge the seemingly superficial with the world of high art, the exhibition title takes on two meanings; it references both the fashions that emerge from beauty parlors and an art historical term for the exhibition of a large number of works stacked upon each other in a limited space.

Salon Style is organized by Hallie Ringle, Senior Curatorial Assistant.

Click here for more info. Click below for pub:

BUSTLE: "What better opportunity to deconstruct traditional fixtures of beauty as an extension of female identity than at the intersection of art and feminism? In a new exhibit coming to the Studio Museum in Harlem, called ”Salon Style,” artist Pamela Council does just that...."

i-D: "More than just signifiers of style, hair and nails become formidable political statements. To athletes whose physique might be considered masculine, for example, long red nails are a way to assert femininity."

Flavorpill ArtNews

Mary Kay and Saint-Germain, 2014

Mary Kay and Saint-Germain, 2014

Show #15 at Parlour Bushwick

Group exhibition featuring work by Pamela Council, Sue Havens, Jen Hitchings, and Lana Z Caplans

791 Bushwick Ave, Brooklyn, New York

February 27, 2015-April 5, 2015

On view Sundays 12-5 or by appointment