Stephen Hamilton (b.1987, Boston)
I identify simultaneously as an artist, educator, and researcher. My work incorporates both Western and African techniques, blending figurative painting and drawing with resist-dyeing, weaving, and woodcarving. Each image is a marriage between the aesthetic perspectives and artistry of both traditions. As a Black American trained in traditional West African art forms, I treat weaving, dyeing, and woodcarving as ritualized acts of reclamation. I use traditional techniques and materials native to West Africa to reclaim ancestral knowledge dissociated from Africans in the Americas during the transatlantic slave trade. I also use these incredibly time-intensive techniques as a way to honor and reclaim Black labor. The work explores and heavily references the Black body in pre-colonial African art history, creating visual connections between the past and the present by glossing west and west-central African symbolism and iconography. Through the use of this symbolism, I explore themes of power, beauty, gender, and the fluidity and complexity that ties these ideas to issues in contemporary Black thought. This forms a body of work that serves as a conceptual and visual bridge between the ancient and modern worlds. Through this, I explore elements of Black identity through time and space on its own terms. My research praxis gives context and depth to this work. In turn, my art practice becomes the mechanism by which I share the fruits of this research with the world.
The Artist in Museums
MFA Boston • See Stephen Hamilton's work at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston now in the exhibition Touching Roots: Black Ancestral Legacies in the Americas through May 21, 2023. View the work in their collection
ICA Boston • Re-visit Stephen Hamilton's exhibition at the The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Indigo, July 3 - Sep 6, 2021
View the work in their collection