Allison Janae Hamilton

Return to Artist List

Artist Statement

My artwork features uncanny subjects and surreal scenes that blend the epic with the everyday and the disturbing with the delicate within the expanse of the rural American south. The chief concern of my practice is land: I am curious about the ways that the actual topography of the American landscape contributes to social and political constructions of space.  I am likewise interested in the role of landscape in the conception and figuring of “Americana.” In my treatment of land, the natural environment is the central protagonist, not a backdrop, in the unfolding of historic and contemporary narratives. My work is accordant with Walker Evans’s premise that “southerners are haunted by their own landscape.”

I create unsettling figurations that engage the social and political concerns of today’s changing southern terrain, such as 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. Most intimately, I am influenced by mythologies passed down to me through my own relationship with the region: I was born in Kentucky, raised in Florida, and my maternal family’s farm and homestead lies in the rural flatlands of western Tennessee. Drawing from all of these references, I imagine what an epic myth looks and feels like in rural terrain. In this vein, my art practice centers on imagination in order to meditate on disruption and magic within the seemingly mundane rituals of natural and human-made environments.

My interdisciplinary process employs sculpture, photography, video, installation, and taxidermy. The materials that I use range from animal carcasses to religious iconography, layered projections to thrumming soundscapes, wrought iron and steel to insects and dirt. My consistent use of animal remains incarnates the landscape as a knowing participant. These elements come together in immersive spaces that situate the viewer within a disorienting terrain where the alluring and the ominous meet. These environments bring the captivating and the disturbing together in ways that signify on rituals, histories, myth, and everyday practice within rural southern land.



MFA, School of the Arts, Columbia University, New York, NY
PhD, New York University, New York, NY
Whitney Independent Study Program, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
MA, Columbia University, New York, NY
BS, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

Wonder Room. Recess, 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.

Fictions. The Studio Museum in Harlem, 2017.
(forthcoming) The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today. Kemper Museum of   Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO.
The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today. Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA and   Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX.
American Hoodoo. Rush Arts Gallery, New York, NY.
Lilith. The Light Factory, Charlotte, NC.
DandyLion. Lowe Art Museum, Miami, FL.
PopRally, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.
Are We Human?: Video Section. Istanbul Design Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey.
In Response, The Jewish Museum, New York, NY.
The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian   Institution, Washington, DC.
Resultados. Villa Iris, Fundación Botín, Santander, Spain.
Lattice Work. Black and White Gallery, Brooklyn, NY.
Finished Goods Warehouse. Former Pfizer Factory, Brooklyn, NY.
Do You Hear What I Hear? A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY.
DandyLion. Brighton Photo Biennial, Brighton, England and the Museum of the African   Diaspora, San Francisco, CA.
DandyLion. Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL and SilverEye Center for  Photography, Pittsburgh, PA.
Badass Art Man. The African American Museum of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA.
RE•AL•IZED. Carol Jazzar Contemporary, Miami, FL.
The Will to Adorn. Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, The    Smithsonian Institution.  Washington, DC.
Artists-in-Residence Exhibition. SVA Galleries, New York, NY.
Wish You Were Here. A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY.

Finalist, Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery,   Washington, DC

Session, Recess, New York, NY
Villa Iris Residency, Fundación Botín, Santander, Spain
Visual Arts Fellowship, Columbia University, New York, NY
Artist-in-Residence, Rush Arts Foundation, New York, NY
Summer Artist-in-Residence, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY

(forthcoming) Picard, Charmaine. The Peggy Cooper Cafritz Collection.  Rizzoli    Publications, USA.
Mello, Laeticia. “Allison Janae Hamilton: Hechicera del Sur,” Arte Al Limite,    Summer 2017. Chile. Print and Web.
Lewis, Shantrelle. DandyLion. Aperture, USA.
Simchak, Courtney. “Sweet Milk in the Badlands: Allison Janae Hamilton,” Newfound,   Vol. 7, Fall 2016. Web.
Viera, Bené. “Black Girl Magic,” Essence, February 2016. Print and Web.
Lewis, Shantrelle P. “The Origins of the DandyLion Project,” NKA: Journal of    Contemporary African Art, November 2015. Print.
Weidman, Michelle. “Allison Janae Hamilton’s Kingdom of the Marvelous,” The Picture   Professional, Summer 2015. Print and Web.
Merinho, Macarena. “Allison Janae Hamilton: Lo Real en Lo Fantástico,” Arte Al Limite,   May/June 2015. Chile. Print and Web.
Kim, Deanna. “15 Young Black Artists Making Waves in the Art World,” Complex   Magazine. February 2015. Web.
“Tell me no tales II.” Artforum. November 2014. Print.
Souleo. “40 Amazing Black Artists to Watch in 2014,” NBC’s The Grio. January 2014. Web.
“30 Under 30 Women Photographers,” Photoboite. January 2014.   Web.