Hamilton’s artistic practice is firmly rooted in notions of place, land and environment. The artist’s heritage from the American south – having grown up in both Florida and Tennessee – form the cornerstone of her artwork and interest in landscape. In her photographs, the natural environment takes precedence, and is used as a vehicle through which to explore the social and political concerns of land loss, forced migration, environmental justice, climate change and sustainability. Narratives are pieced together from folktales, hunting and farming rituals, African-American nature writing, and Baptist hymns. Drawing from all of these references, she envisions what an epic myth looks and feels like in rural terrain. Merging land centered folklore and personal family narratives into her subjects, Hamilton poignantly explores the history of the black South and our concept of “Americana.”
Each work captures performances by the artist, friends and family within the landscape that Hamilton calls home – the dense, swampy and wooded land of northern Florida. Her imagined, ghostly figures inhabit lush, rural settings that are riddled with haunting details and psychologically charged symbols. Adorning her protagonists in masks, animal bones, and feathers, Hamilton situates characters as intimately bound to their surroundings as well as disruptors of its ecosystem. Hamilton hand-crafts the costumes of her characters and carefully composes and directs their movements within the landscapes. The result is a strikingly uncanny and ethereal experience, an elaborate world within a frame that envelops its viewers.
Allison Janae Hamilton (b.1984) is a multi-disciplinary artist working in sculpture, installation, photography, and video. Allison Janae Hamilton has exhibited widely across the U.S. and abroad. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), North Adams, MA (2018) and Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, GA (2018). She has further been featured in group presentations at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Storm King Art Center, New Windsor, NY; the Studio Museum in Harlem, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, NY; the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; the Jewish Museum, New York, NY; and the Istanbul Design Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey. Hamilton has also participated in a range of fellowships and residencies, including with the Whitney Independent Study Program, New York, NY; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; and Fundación Botín; Santander, Spain. She is the recipient of the Creative Capital Award and the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant. Hamilton holds a PhD in American Studies from New York University and an MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University. She lives and works in New York.