The Rat’s Nest is a collective that fabricates big wigs for all occasions. We initially folded the Surrealists’ Exquisite Corpse into our wig design process as a springboard into collaborative fun. Exquisite Corpse, meaning beautiful body in French, is a  technique in which multiple participants generate a single composition, each unaware of the work contributed by the other partners--the resulting composite piece forms a hybrid body. Hair can be a powerful form of personal expression, and also speak volumes about a culture--The Rat’s Nest plays with conceptions of identity via exploration-through-making, and orchestrate events that merge with the community in unforeseen ways.

Come to The Rat’s Nest and get fitted, join us for an afternoon tea ceremony, or look for us at your local barbershop and salon! 

To view more project documentation visit:

On a related note, I love a guy who makes wigs (especially ones that look like enormous hats) and owns the title “Smack Mellon Hot Pick.” That would be recent visitor Marin Abell, who has been knocking around the residency circuit since getting his MFA from Ohio University. He was in town this summer for another round of the eight-week Blue Sky Project, which invites artists and Dayton-area teens to create new works of contemporary art.

Marin took over a storefront facing Courthouse Square and created “The Rat’s Nest,” an exuberant, messy installation that must have been a blast for the kids to work on. It was a great contrast to the other piece that I found the most intriguing--the controlled, cerebral repetitions of Suzannah Mira and crew, shown in a storefront on Main Street.

So, Whether your tastes run to simple wool caps or tinfoil triangles to keep the aliens from reading your thoughts, I suggest you bring a little extra style to your next stroll, and put on a hat to go looking about.

Jane A. Black, Associate Director of the Dayton Art Institute

Black, Jane A. “Keeping Your Head Warm is Just a Bonus.” Dayton City Paper 30 Aug. 2011 <>

“It was like walking into a forest.” Annie, age 9

A wig of hands binding hair in place, and planted dandelions for grandma’s soft poofy hair.

  Thoughts fell to the floor like apples. A wig made of:

  a blonde shelving unit and cardboard boxes to

  compartmentalize our thoughts (boxes containing

  pressing secrets are bulging), voxels (volumetric

  picture elements used in video games), and conjoined

  twin beard that is used as a jump rope.

Gandalf’s beard on Russell Crowe’s head, a tuba with too many tubes entangling the player, and various animal tails.

A venus fly trap hairclip.

Our collective is comprised of: Marin Abell, Elle Brickhouse, Arielle Bucio, Sam Enright, Robbie Gaier, Ruthie Herman, Carolyn Ruck and Ashley Sattler.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the following individuals and organizations that donated time, energy and materials for our project: Blue Sky Project; University of Dayton College of Arts & Sciences; Ed Lopez and KeyBank; William Bankes and the Global Foam Company; Bill Clark and Jesse’s Barbers; and Nikkie Gallon and All Sports Barber.

We arrange appointments at  barbershops and, instead of asking for haircuts, ask them to produce drawings of haircuts using hybrid implements such as buzz clippers, mirrors, scissors, combs and hairclips all with markers attached. We collect their ideas as research for our wig designs. Nikkie Gallon at All Sports Barber stayed away from the spray-paint-hairspray, preferring the zig-zag lines of the buzz-clipper-markers.

Bill Clark at Jesse’s Barbers gives Elle a dash of Lady Gaga with a hybrid comb-marker implement.

Copyright © 2010 - 2017 Marin Abell.

the rat’s nest

marin abell