Ann Hamilton is an installation artist who creates immersive experiences with large scale multimedia site responsive installations. Words, language, and text are the center of these installations. Hamilton began as a textile artist, and in some ways she is still one in her use of repetitive gestures and in her use of unique detail in settings.
Hamilton received a B.F.A. in textile design from the University of Kansas in 1979 and an M.F.A. in sculpture from the Yale School of Art in 1985. Hamilton taught at U.C. Santa Barbara from 1985-1991. She now resides in Ohio where she is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Art at Ohio State University.
Her 2012 “The Event of a Thread” was a huge installation in New York City’s Park Avenue Armory that took its name from a quote made by the famed weaver Annie Albers. Hamilton’s installation featured white silk curtains that hung over thousands of square feet of space, punctuated by large swings that came down from the ceiling. This work actively involved viewers who were either swinging through the space on the swings, or standing under the moving cloth, or resting on the floor. When someone swung, they were attached to pulleys and chairs that influenced the movement of the curtains. Other people were recording or reading aloud while children played happily. This work beautifully illustrated interdependence and interconnection.
In her “Indigo Blue” she presented some 48,000 blue work pants and blue shirts neatly folded and stacked behind a seated woman, who was erasing the content from old history books to make space on the page for working-class people. Her work served as a tribute to women who have always made and cared for such clothes rather than to the men who wore them. The color indigo blue references past history as this color was a cash crop cultivated in Charlestown by slaves. It was used in the nineteenth century for high-end wall paper but in the twentieth century is associated with the denim of the working class.
Hamilton took more than three years to create her first permanent installation “The Tower” situated at Oliver Ranch, Geyserville, California. It is an eight-story-cylindrical tower 30 feet in diameter. The Tower goes down almost as far into the earth as it rises into the air. It was intended to be a musical experimentation and performance space. New works of poetry, dance, and music are commissioned annually for performances at this space.
Her 1990 installation, ‘dominion,’ at Ohio State University consisted of hundreds of ears of corn covering outer walls, through which an attendant could be seen unraveling a long piece of white cloth, that extended across the installation to a huge bassinet full of moths, that in their larval stage would ravage all the crops.
Among Hamilton’s many honors are a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts. In 1999, she was the third woman to represent America as a solo artist at the Venice Biennale since 1990. She has also represented the United States in the Sao Paulo Bienal. Her work has been shown in more than a dozen museums in Japan, Europe, and the United States, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
Her artworks are in the collections of over 30 museums worldwide, including the Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and Tate Modern.