Awesome Nail Designs At MCA -- And It's Free

Awesome Nail Designs At MCA -- And It's Free
Astrowifey crafted this awesome nail art for Imperial Nails, part of the Homebodies exhibit at the MCA.

I had my awesome nail designs done by Astrowifey for an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art called Imperial Nails. And let me just tell you that she turned. that. shit. out. The “nail studio” is a sort of performance art piece, called Imperial Nails, within the museum’s Homebodies exhibit from Chicago-based artist Dzine. The nails are FREE with museum admission. FREE.

Originally, Imperial Nails were by appointment only. The three month stint was booked up in 5 days. That seemed to be kinda sucky, so the museum has opened up additional walk-in appointments during a few specific time slots.

I’ve been wanting to have my nails done by Astrowifey for years now. I read about her in Nylon, I’ve been eagerly following her designs on Instagram and I’ve been creepily following her life on Twitter. I say “creepily” only because it’s always a little weird to one-sided “know” someone in an online space only. Welcome to my blog. Hello.

I’ve always been a little obsessed with nail art and nail designs. I never had access to anything too incredible, but I would be sure to change up my nail colors with the seasons. I have a specific memory of painting my nails black and asking my mom to write “H-A-L-L-O-W-E-E-N” across my nails in orange. When a 7th grade friend had her nails painted blue with white cloud-like puffs, I was beside myself with envy…and a little bit of junior high “don’t copy me…you know I’m the girl who loves nails!”

As an adult, I really have no artistic skills in the ways of painting or drawing, as demonstrated here, here and here. My nails expression has, then, been through experimenting with colors, application techniques, nail stickers and painted tips. Imperial Nails takes this to a whole new level.

First, there are a selection of bold press-on accent nails to choose from. I’m a little adventurous, so I gave Astrowifey full artistic control and just asked her to do something that she thought would be cool. I told her I was a little obsessed with metallic nails for fall and she picked out a pointy, gold nail with a gold leaf. I kinda loved the play on words.

Table of accent nails at Imperial Nails at the MCA.

Table of accent nails at Imperial Nails at the MCA.

She glued this fierce sucker to the middle finger on my right hand and then proceeded to whip up an intricate design based around the accent piece. She painted each nail a shimmering bronze and then swept over the tips with a dark titanium. This created a metallic ombre effect.

Then, she painted black spikes on some nails and a leaf motif on others. This then called to mind both the leaf and the point of the accent nail.

Every time I thought “Oh, this is too cool. It must be over.” She added a new piece to the design. Next, she went through her tackle box of nail gems and selected a pattern that she glued to the base of each nail.

The left hand is still really fierce looking.

Even the non-accent fingered hand is f-ing fierce.


I walked out of there just ACHING for someone to piss me off so that I could flip them the nail. Since the accent nail was on my middle finger, it would kinda feel like a velociraptor claw when I laid my curved fingers on a table or keyboard.

It’s kinda weird how something like a manicure can make you feel extra sexy. I think it’s when you make these little detail changes that you become a little more aware of your body and your movements. Something about that is just naturally alluring.

You can ask the nail artists at Imperial Nails to do almost any type of nail designs you desire. My recommendation is to let yourself go bold and put yourself in the knowing hands of the nail artists. There is no way I would’ve ever thought to come up with the nails I walked out with, because they are way more awesome than anything I would have come up with. These artists know what they’re doing.

Think about it this way: this is a rare opportunity to have your nails actually be a piece of contemporary art. Release yourself to that experience. Let yourself saddle up against the boundaries of your comfort zone and push right on through.

For more information about Imperial Nails and how to get an appointment, click here.

If you can’t make the exhibit, definitely consider getting an appointment with Astrowifey here. That chick is talented.

Astrowifey painting my nails on the Imperial Nails set in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Astrowifey and I at the Imperial Nails set in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Leave a comment