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.