Museum Minute: Allison Janae Hamilton
Artist Allison Janae Hamilton was born and grew up on southern soil. Now, she makes work in a variety of media about how nature and tradition intertwine to shape human experience, including that of Black Americans in the rural South. She has said, “I’m using the landscapes I know most intimately to focus on the specifics of that landscape and consider the histories and narratives of displacement, land loss, bodies, ownership of space and migration around that space. There is an assumption that the tie between landscape, the earth and Blackness is rooted solely in the past, that it’s not a contemporary lived experience. But that’s not true. I’m interested in all of these contemporary relationships between life and landscape.”
Drawing upon her experiences in Kentucky, Florida, and her maternal family’s farmland in western Tennessee, she uses this personal relationship with rural landscapes to illustrate how land influences people and power structures. The exhibition “Allison Janae Hamilton: Between Life and Landscape” is on view at the Georgia Museum of Art through February 5, 2023, and includes two photographs and two video works. Nature takes center stage in all of them, allowing Hamilton to examine how landscapes hold traces of the past and affect the present.
Nature also takes on the role of storyteller in Hamilton’s work. Her choice of landscape often holds historical significance. Myth and folklore are also strong influences in her work. Spectral figures haunt Hamilton’s images and watch over the landscape. These figures add a fantastical element and give human form to the histories that shape her work.