Street artist Decoy seems like she’d be as tough as nails, but hers were once quite brittle. The artist — you’ve probably seen her wheatpastes around town — used to have a nail biting problem, and when she finally overcame it earlier this year, she threw herself deep into the dazzling and bedazzling world of nail art.
The result is D’s Nails, an art exhibit/pop-up nail salon at the Fridge through Nov. 25. Decoy will be offering free manicures from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18 after her artist talk, which begins at 2 p.m. Her regular Saturday hours are currently all booked up, but she says that she can take the occasional walk-in. Call ahead, 202-550-2208, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the waiting list.
Decoy, whose real name is Alicia Cosnahan, kicked her bad habit through Trind, a Keratin treatment. Once her nails started to get long and healthy, she says she became obsessed with nail polish and 3-D embellishments, like a tiny butterfly charm she once saw on a stranger in the New York subway. “It looked like it had just landed on her thumb,” she said.
She started to do her friends’ nails, and it evolved into the current show, which features nail-themed art hanging on the walls, and a salon with $30 artist-designed manicures inspired by Washington D.C. landmarks and our flag. She’s especially on-trend: The popularity of nail art has been on the rise this year, so much that E! even dedicated a special mani-cam to it at this year’s Emmy awards.
But you won’t find French tips at this salon. Decoy’s manicures aren’t as girly — she’s even had a few male customers. Aside from the D.C.-themed sets, she’ll do lettering on her customers’ hands inspired by knuckle tattoos (a subject of one of her previous shows at the Fridge). For one male guest, she says, she painted “Love Hope,”a tribute to his newborn daughter. Through the smell of chemicals and lacquer, she’s realized that painting a person’s nails is a deeply personal act.
“You’re face to face, you’re touching their hands,” she said. “It’s something nice that you can share, and sit intimately and talk to someone.”