allison janae hamilton
I am into fantasy.

Epic characters—from the marvelous to the grotesque—enthralled me as a child.

Today, my artistic practice centers on the fantastic in order to agitate rigid narratives of blackness existing in today's visual culture landscape. I evoke the canons of speculative fiction, surrealism, and fashion photography in order to explore the tensions between dominant cultural narratives and self-identification. My curiosity about multiple experiences of blackness underscores my commitment to interrogating the role of material culture in the creation of commonsense tropes of black life.

For example, my long-term project, House Taken Over, borrows thematic elements from men's fashion magazines and classical fashion portraiture to explore how the black male body is characterized in fashion photography as a symbol of the urban street. In this series, I introduce country roads, cul-de-sacs, and garden trails as possible sites of black embodiment. Additionally, I draw from my own childhood memories—some tangible, others fantastical—of time spent with my extended family in the rural American South as a basis for my whimsical backdrops and thematic elements. Components such as taxidermy, lace, flowers, veils, tambourines, church fans, food items, and miscellaneous ornaments animate these memories.

My whimsical portraits invite the viewer to question their own understandings of fiction and reality. My body of work—at once severe and fanciful—contributes alternate readings of black visuality through striking contrast and vivid candor. Simultaneously haunting and delightful, the work shatters conventional standards of race, gender, geography, and embodiment.

Allison Janae Hamilton is a visual artist and scholar based in New York City. Her work lives at the intersections of photography, fashion, and performance. Hamilton's artistic practice centers on the fantastic in order to agitate rigid narratives of blackness existing in today's visual culture landscape. Hamilton works across multiple disciplines—photography, video, costume, and performance—and evokes the canons of speculative fiction, surrealism, and classical portraiture in order to explore the tensions between dominant cultural narratives and self-identification. Her curiosity about multiple experiences of blackness underscores her commitment to interrogating the role of material culture in the creation of commonsense tropes of black life.

Hamilton is currently a 2013-2014 Fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program, sponsored by the Whitney Museum of American Art. She has exhibited in solo and group shows in galleries such as Rush Arts Gallery (New York, NY), chashama Gallery (New York, NY), and A-I-R Gallery (Brooklyn, NY). Her commissioned projects include the Smithsonian Institution's 2013 Folklife Festival and she has given lectures and workshops at a number of museums and universities such as the Smithsonian Institution, the Brooklyn Museum, Université Paris, The University of Manchester (UK), Columbia University, and Northwestern University. She was a 2013 Summer Artist-in-Residence at the School of Visual Arts (New York, NY) and art director of the 2013 short film, "Roots. |&| Rigor." Hamilton's work has been published in Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, Words Beats and Life: The Global Journal of Hip Hop Culture, HYCIDE Magazine, and Insight Magazine. She has also been a costume stylist for a number of theatrical pieces, including the Off-Broadway production of The Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe.
2014 pauline araujo katarina balgavy ashley beyer sabrina caramanico agnès clotis pauline darley utami dewi godjali maria gruzdeva anka gujabidze tatiana gulenkina allison janae hamilton dawn heumann sandy honig monique jaques barbara kosakowska lisa lesourd niha masih elizabeth moran erin mulvehill amanda mustard dina oganova noell oszvald alejandra cárdenas palacios page hall perrault mafalda rakos tina remiz judit ruprech dana stirling daro sulakauri teri varhol