Photo by Heather Sten

Allison Janae Hamilton (b.1984) is a visual artist working in sculpture, installation, photography, and video.  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, complex sounds, and animal remains, Hamilton creates immersive spaces that consider the ways that the American landscape contributes to our ideas of "Americana" and social relationships to space in the face of a changing climate, particularly within the rural American south.   

In Hamilton's treatment of land, the natural environment is the central protagonist, not a backdrop, in the unfolding of historic and contemporary narratives. Through blending land-centered folklore and personal family narratives, she engages haunting yet epic mythologies that address the social and political concerns of today's changing southern terrain, including land loss, environmental justice, climate change, and sustainability.  Each work contains narratives that 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. In this vein, Hamilton's art practice centers on imagination in order to meditate on disruption and magic within the seemingly mundane rituals of natural and human-made environments.

Hamilton has exhibited her work at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Storm King Art Center, New Winsor, 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; Fundación Botín, Santander, Spain; the Brighton Photo Biennial, Brighton, UK; and the Istanbul Design Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey.  Solo exhibitions of her work include Pitch at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), North Adams, MA (2018); Passage at Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, GA (2018); and Wonder Room at Recess, New York, NY (2017).  Hamilton was a 2013-2014 Fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program, sponsored by the Whitney Museum of American Art.  She has been awarded artist residencies at the Studio Museum in Harlem (New York, NY), Recess (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's work is in numerous private and public collections including the Studio Museum in Harlem and Arte Al Límite.  Her artwork has been featured in publications such as the New York Times, Art in America, the Boston Globe, Artsy, Esquire, and Women and Performance. Hamilton received her PhD in American Studies from New York University and her MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University.  She lives and works in New York, NY.






  • Allison Janae Hamilton: Kingdom of the Marvelous. Rush Arts Gallery, New York, NY.


  • The Black Ain't Project: Installation #1. chashama Gallery, New York, NY.
  • SPACE IS THE PLACE. Corridor Gallery, Brooklyn, NY.



  • DandyLion. Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL.
  • Badass Art Man. African American Museum in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA.


  • Artists-in-Residence Group Exhibition. SVA Galleries, New York, NY.
  • Wish You Were Here. A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY.


  • Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series. Rush Arts Gallery, New York, NY.


  • Dirty Sensibilities. Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, New York, NY.


  • Cage Unrequited by Pope.L. A performance co-organized by The Studio Museum in Harlem, Performa,  and The Grey Art Gallery, NYU and in conjunction with the exhibition Radical Presence: Black  Performance in Contemporary Art, curated by Valerie Cassel Oliver.  New York, NY. 
  • Art Director, Roots. |&| Rigor. Director, Tiona McClodden. Philadelphia, PA.


  • Art/Production Team, QueenS. Director, dream hampton.


  • "Committee." Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, The Smithsonian  Institution.   Washington, DC.
  • "Sisters."  Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, The Smithsonian  Institution.   Washington, DC.


  • Critical Perspectives on Visual Culture Symposium, Whitney Museum of American Art. May 20, 2014.


  • Folklife Festival, The Smithsonian Institution,  Washington, DC.
  • Black  Portraiture[s]: The Black Body in the West Symposium, Université de Paris Diderot, Paris, France.


  • From Portraits to Pinups: Representations of Women in Art and Popular Culture Symposium, Brooklyn Museum,  Brooklyn, NY.


  • Conversations Lecture Series, Institute for Research in African-American Studies, Columbia  University, New York, NY.


  • Transnational Feminisms Conference, Manchester, United Kingdom.


"40 Amazing Black Artists to Watch in 2014," NBC's The Grio. January 3, 2014. Web.

"30 Under 30 Women Photographers," Photoboite. January 1, 2014. Web.

Long, Monique. "Marvelous Dandies: Allison Janae Hamilton Presents Her Foppish Subjects in Lush Landscapes," Studio Museum in Harlem Blog. December 13, 2013. Web.

"Allison Janae Hamilton," Hycide Magazine No. 5 (January 2013), p.59. Print.

"P-Funk," Insight Magazine Vol. 4, No. 3. (Fall 2011), pp. 48-53. Print and Web.


Artforum. November 2014. p. 203. Print.

Transition Magazine. Issue 114 (Summer 2014). pp. 60, 63, 65. Print and Web.

Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory. Vol. 22, No 2-3 (Fall 2012).  Cover Image. Print.


Moore, Darnell. "TFW Interview: Allison Janae Hamilton on 'The Black Ain't Project Installation #1: Embodiment,'"  March 7, 2012. Web.

Wimberly, Dexter. "Dirty Sensibilities: A New South," October 12, 2011. Web.


Bailey, Ludlow E. "An Insider's Guide to African Diaspora Art at Basel Miami Beach 2014," December 4, 2014. Web.

Ball, Charing. "Dandies in Paris," December 4, 2012. Web.

Harris, Juliette. "The Great Gathering in Paris," The International Review of African American Art (Spring 2013). Web.

Leavell, Gerald. "Gerald Leavell on ETW '11," April 20, 2011. Web.