Nails in the Key of Life & Nails Across America: 2012-ongoing


Visit for tour dates and press.

Nails in the Key of Life seeks to connect to a broad audience through the act of performing manicures. This experiential art project is about more than simply Nail Art. By transforming a 1968 Shasta Compact travel trailer, into a mobile salon, I aim to create an intimate platform to exchange ideas and conversation. I will document these exchanges with audio recordings, photography, and video to create a web-based project archive.

Nails Across America is a cross-country road trip that launched May 28-31, 2013 at Mixed Greens in NYC. Contact Breanne ( if you would like to host the NAILS trailer in your hometown, at your venue, boxing gym, farm store, community center, gallery, museum, etc.

This is for everyone. The ideal audience spans a broad range of ages, and economic, political, and social demographics. Building an archive of participants as diverse as possible is essential to the project's success: young, old, blue collar, white collar, mechanics, gallerists, and farmers alike. With in-kind donations and fundraising, I hope to give all of the manicures for FREE in order to reach a broad economic demographic.

A Living Edition
The goal of the project is to "edition" 500 sets of nails. Following a manicure in the mobile salon, participants will receive a signed and numbered (1/500, 2/500, 3/500 and so on) letter-pressed certificate of authenticity, commemorating their participation in the edition. Thus, they become linked to the outcome of the road trip and the Nails in the Key of Life archive.

Menu of Services
The curated menu will reference recurring themes in my art such as popular culture, junk food, and art history: manicure colors include Cheeto Orange and International Klein Blue, which also pays homage to the television program Friday Night Lights, nail art designs inspired by Richard Diebenkorn, donut sprinkles, #2 pencils, pretzels, pizza, and more.

Performing Manicures
The act of receiving and giving a manicure is intimate by its nature. The physical contact is constant, from the filing of the nail's free edge to the hand and arm massage. The often silent disconnect between the nail technician and client is the impetus for Nails in the Key of Life. The mobile salon seeks participants (YOU!) to create a shared and meaningful experience through the art of performing manicures.

Nail School
Because I will come into physical contact with hundreds of people, it is important to me that the project be credible in terms of technique and execution. I completed the first half of Nails in the Key of Life by training to become a New York State licensed nail technician. I graduated from a 16-week program at TW Nail Technology in June 2012. My training covered topics such as nail diseases and disorders, anatomy and physiology, bacteriology, disinfection and sanitation. As of March 2013, I have passed both written and practical state board exams and am duly licensed in NY State.

Points of Inspiration for Nails Across America
A recent New York Times article, "At the Corner of Hope and Worry," has been a source of inspiration for whom I intend to reach with this project. Dan Barry's article examines "the expectations, disappointments and challenges that shape the lives of Donna Dove, her customers and the city they know intimately, Elyria, Ohio." Elyria, and more specifically, Donna's eponymous diner is a destination point on the road trip. I see the tapestry of Elyria's community (and my own community in rural Wassaic, NY) as a model for the types of oral histories I aim to collect and circumstances I will encounter with the mobile salon. My hope is that this project will honor and acknowledge the lives of ordinary people, and the project archive will serve as a collective snapshot of contemporary American life.

Miss the Kickstarter but still want to contribute to Nails Across America?
Road trip provisions: $15
Iced coffee for a week: $25
Oil change: $65
Tank of gas: $140 (I bought a 1996 Diesel Suburban--much better gas mileage this way!)
Two tanks of gas: $300
10 tanks of gas: $1400

Follow along!

PRESS: Email Breanne for Press Kit.

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