Safety in Numbers

Molly Vaughan


May 24 – June 1


Thursday, June 2 (6 – 8pm)


Friday, June 10 (3 – 5pm)


June 3 – July 2


Follow & share on Instagram: #safetyinnumbersart

Safety in Numbers was an iterative installation and performance created by Seattle-based artist, Molly Vaughan. The performative component of this work invited volunteers to participate in an act of trans-allyship by receiving a haircut identical to Vaughan’s to modify their appearance. By creating a cohort of “clones”, the artist called attention to the power of anonymity and how it allows people to move through society harassment free. 

The exhibition included functional elements of a salon that were intentionally set to stage the performance. Segmenting the space into areas for activation and secondary programming, Vaughan utilized large abstract panels with designs based on places of personal importance. This motif—which Vaughan referred to as a geographical biography—was repeated throughout the installation on various materials and surfaces, as a mechanism to disrupt perception of the studio’s dimensionality. In this third iteration of Safety in Numbers, Vaughan tightened her conceptual framework by restricting the available cut to only include a traditional bob. This particular style is notable for its history of disrupting gender conventions and its subsequent evolution as a symbol of femininity in contemporary western culture. Throughout her practice, Vaughan has considered the sociohistorical significance of hair by frequently utilizing it as a material or centering it as the subject of her work. In Safety in Numbers she relied on her belief in the potency of hair to act as a vehicle for social justice, as well as aesthetic beauty. 

As in past iterations, the documentation of participants’ transformations was integral to the activist nature of this work. The performative element culminated in a final workshop led by Vaughan, where volunteers were asked to engage in an act of trans-awareness by receiving and responding to a prompt based on real life experiences of a transgender individual. This activity was designed to leave visitors with a deeper understanding of the legal and social systems employed to oppress members of marginalized communities. 


Coming Soon: Safety in Numbers

Discover SLU
May 20, 2022

Photo by James Harnois
Photo by James Harnois