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Hair artist Kristina Beaty creates eye-popping styles that range from retro waves to avant-garde hair sculptures. The Detroit Institute of Arts is featuring her work in the museum’s first-ever program devoted to the art of hair sculpting.
Ann Zaniewski / Detroit Free Press
Ann Zaniewski/Detroit Free Press

Kristina Beaty turns hair into art.  

Her masterpieces include extravagant hair roses, intricate braids and voluminous waves that harken back to the 1940s, with eye-popping curls and twists. Some of her fantasy looks have featured spaceships and birds sculpted of hair. 

It’s fitting that the stylist will have a special venue this weekend to showcase her work: the Detroit Institute of Arts. It will be the museum’s first-ever program devoted specifically to the art of hair sculpting. 

“I’m excited to show off my artistry, and I’m happy that hair styling is being recognized as an art form,” Beaty said. 

Beaty, 39, of Harper Woods, owns Studio Glamour Salon in Grosse Pointe. 

She will demonstrate hair sculpting from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the DIA’s Prentis Court. 

Sometimes booking up to a month out, Beaty — also known as Kristina the Glam Tech — has styled for proms, birthday parties, galas and red carpet events. Clients have flown in from out-of-state to have her hands bless their heads with an unforgettable do. 

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Beaty works with all hair types. Some of her looks, she said, were inspired by her own dreams.

“I dream in color,” she said. “I also take inspiration from everything around me.” 

Beaty’s talent surfaced when she was in about eighth grade. She and a close friend would take turns doing each other’s hair, trying to replicate Janet Jackson’s braids. The end results drew compliments from friends and strangers alike. 

“I would come home, and people would be sitting on my porch” waiting to get their hair done, Beaty said. 

Beaty flourished in her cosmetology classes at Crockett High School in Detroit. Her mother encouraged her to turn passion into a career.

After high school, Beaty became a licensed cosmetologist, earned an associate’s degree in salon management and worked at various salons before opening her own business in 2005 in Detroit.

She went from there to open a salon in Eastpointe, and then moved her shop to Grosse Pointe two years ago. Today, photos of her looks that she posts on social media often go viral. Her work has been recently featured by Buzzfeed and O Magazine. 

Beaty’s favorite look to create is a glamorous, retro wave.

“People want that vintage look that they can’t get anywhere else. It’s kind of a lost art form,” she said. 

The hair styles can take anywhere from an hour to a whole day or more to complete, depending on the level of intricacy. 

Beaty has taken top honors at prominent hair competitions, including Bronner Bros. and Proud Lady. She also founded and co-produces the “My Hair My Story My Glory” show, which celebrates the history and culture of African-American hair through music, poetry and dance.

At the DIA event, the public will get an up-close look at Beaty’s styles. She will focus on her unique rose design and style the look for different ages, from a young girl and a prom attendee on Saturday to a bride and a mature woman Sunday.

Beaty’s program is part of the museum’s effort to highlight different forms of art during its monthly artist demonstrations, said studio instructor Zachary Frieling. 

“We’ve been trying to put a spotlight on local artists, and artists in a lot of different mediums and styles, beyond what people usually think of for an artist’s demonstration — getting past painting, ceramics, sculpture,” he said. 

One of the hair models at the DIA will be Michelle Mitchell, a client of Beaty’s since 1998. 

“Every week I get something different, from wet sets to sculptured hair to braids,” Mitchell, 52, of Eastpointe, said. “I sit in the chair. I tell her I’m her canvas. When I get up, it’s a masterpiece.”

Mitchell said she leaves Beaty’s salon feeling glamorous and ready to take on the world.

When does a hairstyle transform into art? 

“When it’s something that isn’t easily duplicated,” Beaty said. 

Contact staff writer Ann Zaniewski at 313-222-6594 or azaniewski@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter: @AnnZaniewski.