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Allison Janae Hamilton
Allison Janae Hamilton
August 25, 2018 – November 13, 2018
Allison Janae Hamilton’s video Passage. (2016) is projected onto a single wall in a continuous loop. Although now based in New York, her work is anchored in the South, from the sweltering swamps of North Florida to rural western Tennessee, home of her maternal family’s farm and homestead. Interweaving non-linear footage, the work utilizes folklore, family stories, and myths to capture a murky dreamlike puzzle, incomplete after years of attempting to solve the entirety of the picture. Like an epic family memory that floods and re-floods, spilling over all in its way. There is a palpable unease as a macabre figure wearing animal mask creepily carries the remains of a pheasant. Women’s clothing is separated from their owner’s bodies, strewn about and rustling in the old pine trees. Does the tension of this nothingness comes from not fully knowing where or how these women disappeared? Are these ghosts victims, or did they escape this balmy environment of their own volition in search of greater opportunities? In a flash we view a group of women gathered in a circle around their hymnals, a ritual of rural life. Perhaps these women once wore those dresses of big aspirations and family obligations and have kept them here to grow older? Perhaps it is a dream that is happening in the past and future simultaneously, an imagined world of what once was and could have been.
Allison Janae Hamilton (b. 1984) is a visual artist working in sculpture, installation, photography, video, and taxidermy. She was born in Kentucky, raised in Florida, and her maternal family’s farm and homestead lies in the rural flatlands of western Tennessee. Hamilton’s relationship with these locations forms the cornerstone of her artwork, particularly her interest in landscape. Using plant matter, layered imagery, sounds, and animal remains, Hamilton creates immersive spaces that consider the ways that the American landscape contributes to concepts of “Americana” and the social construction of space, particularly within the rural American south.
Hamilton has exhibited at museums and institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), the Studio Museum in Harlem (New York, NY), the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (Washington, DC), the Jewish Museum (New York, NY), Fundación Botín (Santander, Spain), and the Tacoma Art Museum (Tacoma, WA). Her work has appeared in the Brighton Photo Biennial and Istanbul Design Biennial. She was a 2013-2014 Fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program, sponsored by the Whitney Museum of American Art. Hamilton has been awarded artist residencies at the Studio Museum in Harlem (New York, NY); Recess (New York, NY); Fundación Botín (Santander, Spain); and the Rush Arts Foundation (New York, NY). She received her PhD in American Studies at New York University and her MFA in Visual Arts at Columbia University. Hamilton’s artwork has appeared in publications such as Transition Magazine, Women and Performance, Arte Al Limite, NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art, and Artforum.