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.
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 at museums and institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY); MASS MoCA (North Adams, MA); Storm King Art Center (New Windsor, 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); and Fundación Botín (Santander, Spain). 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 The New York Times, Art in America, Artsy, Transition Magazine, Women and Performance, Arte Al Limite, NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art, and Artforum.
Hamilton's first museum solo exhibition, Allison Janae Hamilton: Pitch, is currently on view at MASS MoCA through March 2019.
She lives and works in New York City.