June 22 1956 - present
Photograph of Ann Hamilton, by Tony Mendoza, courtesy of the artist
Place of Birth:
Multimedia (electronic, digital, video, film), Performance Art
, Photography, Sculpture, Textiles and clothing, Installation Art
Filmmaker, Installation Artist, Mixed Media Artist
, Multimedia Artist, Performance Artist, Photographer, Sculptor, Weaver, Fabric Designer
Abstraction, Conceptual Art
Ann Hamilton is a contemporary installation and performance artist, internationally celebrated for her ability to mold disparate media into emotionally and thematically cohesive environments.
Having grown up in an exceptionally literate family, Hamilton began her collegiate career in 1974 studying literature and geography at St. Lawrence University in New York. After two years, however, she found herself drawn to weaving and decided to transfer to the University of Kansas, where she studied fiber arts under Cynthia Schira and earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Later, while pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in Scupture at the Yale School of Art, her interests took another turn, this time diverging from conventional sculpture into the realm of conceptual installation art
. While her initial experiments in this mode were composed only of live, but motionless, models presented in minimal settings, she soon broadened her palette to include the mélange of recorded audio, choreographed performance, and assemblage for which she is now known.
Overtly labor-intensive, Hamilton’s installations often involve the accumulation and careful arrangement of small items, such as books, pennies, or teeth, on an immense scale. By suggesting an obsessive devotion of time and effort, her works implicitly question the relationship between labor and the creative process. This theme is underscored by the choreographed actions of her performers who knit, sew, or chew bread dough--their minute and repetitive gestures drawing specific attention to the historically overlooked domestic work of women.
The interaction of elements in Hamilton’s installations is never literal or easily reduced to allegory. Instead, congruence and meaning are achieved through what the artist has called “poetic structure.” She presents her media as inherently limited and, therefore, inter-reliant. For example, the texts that inspire her works are often present, but obscured by translation into Braille, international phonetic code, or altered audio recordings, implying the expressive boundaries of language. As a result, the overarching themes in Hamilton's works can only be fully realized and experienced as multimedia installations.
Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT, USA (1983-1985)
University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA (1976-1979)
St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY, USA (1974-1976)
wife of Michael John Mercil
friend of Kathryn Clark
student of Cynthia Schira
collaborated with Ann Chamberlain
colleague of Elizabeth Newman
US Representative, Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy (1999)
Larry Aldrich Foundation Award, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT, USA (1998)
Fellowship, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago, IL, USA (1993)