Marissa Havers, 19

Washington Square Park.

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When we found you, you were sitting on the ground holding a sign that said THIS IS AN ART EXPERIMENT. I INVITE YOU TO BRUSH MY HAIR FOR AS LONG/SHORT AS YOU LIKE. Art student? Yep! I'm a sophomore at SVA.

Is this a Marina Abramovic rip-off? Partly that, and it's partly inspired by Yoko Ono's Cut Piece and an experience I had recently. I decided that it would be an interesting way to interact with the public. I mean, we bump into each other, we're shoulder-to-shoulder on the subway, but we don't really interact in an intimate way.

Did you get any dudes who didn't know how to comb hair? [Laughs] One. He was six-foot-five and kind of brutish. He really meant well, but it was yanking. My favorite was a three-year-old girl who very lightly combed the top of my hair.

What do you say to people who call this kind of art bullshit? If you asked me a year ago, I probably would have said it was bullshit. But I've really opened my mind to what art can be. Art is very conceptual—it's about the idea, not just the physical actualization of the idea. It's very much about the artist's intent and the feelings that are evoked.

Do you have to be angsty to be an artist? I think all humans have a certain level of angst. To be an artist, one has to have a certain level of awareness, but I don't think one has to be angsty.

But one has to be willing to have her hair touched. Perhaps. Or just this one, anyway. [Laughs]

More from Marissa

"I recently did humanitarian work in India. It sounds much more altruistic than it was.... I don't claim to have changed the world, but I did really connect with the people there."

"I'm from the suburbs of Detroit, a conservative nowheresville of 1960s assembly-line houses and strip malls and Methodist churches. It's good to be in New York."

"I model for art classes at the Art Students League in painting and sculpture classes. Getting naked? It's not so bad. The first time I did it, I shaved and lotioned everything and did yoga to make sure I was really flexible for...I don't know what I expected to need flexibility for. I was a little nervous, and then when the robe came off, it was totally fine. Now it's just like, Eh, whatever. I get much less harassed than in high school when I worked fast food. [Laughs]"

 

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