Renell Medrano Celebrates Her past with Peluca

Renell Medrano Celebrates Her past with Peluca

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Renell Medrano Celebrates Her past with Peluca

The photographer’s multi-disciplinary exhibition revolves around her upbringing

and wig culture.

The photographer’s multi-disciplinary exhibition revolves around her upbringing

and wig culture.

Text: Nicky Campbell

It was only five years ago when Renell Medrano first had her work on display at Milk Studios, as part of her thesis project show while attending Parsons. At the time, she only had a small corner next to a trash can—now, her work fills the entire gallery space. 

The rising photographer celebrated the opening of her exhibition Peluca during New York Fashion Week, along with a group of her famous friends and collaborators including A$AP Ferg, Bella Hadid, and Kendall Jenner. The showcase offers a comprehensive look at Medrano’s body of work, featuring a mix of new and old editorial images. 

Throughout the expansive 25-image showcase, one consistent thread ties the exhibition together: wigs. The idea for Peluca was born after Medrano realized how frequently the bizarre hairpieces, created along with hairstylist Evanie Frausto, appear in her work.  

A cultural mainstay for the Bronx native, the exhibition addresses the social stigma surrounding wigs and grapples with their recent shift into mainstream culture. Through a series of thoughtful portraits that are incredibly raw and vulnerable, Medrano’s exhibition is more than a celebration of the transformative quality of wig culture. Ultimately, it’s a tribute to her upbringing. A Dominican-American, Peluca shines a light on her community. 

“Usually what we look at is the supermodel or pretty girl, but the ‘ugly’ ones are beautiful for me. I try to embrace that, and show how everyone is beautiful in their own way. I mean, that’s why there’s a male with a pregnant belly and a wig on. I want to show you should embrace who you are, and feel free to be whoever you want to be,” said Medrano. 

In addition to her photography, the multi-disciplinary exhibition includes an art installation created in collaboration with Lauren Nikrooz and a short film directed by Medrano along with Thuan Tran. Get a glimpse at the exhibition here. 

Peluca will be open to the public through September 15th at Milk Studios, located at 450 West 15th Street, New York, NY 10011.

Oyinda, Aleli May, Renell Medrano, Marisa Bryant

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