Destabilizing myths of the American South : Allison Janae Hamilton’s haints and landscapes

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Urbano, Rachel Patricia

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In this thesis, I examine the notion of myth in the work of Allison Janae Hamilton (b. 1984) who in the last several years has emerged onto the American art scene with great success. I argue that selections from her exhibition, Pitch, and her photographic series, Sweet milk in the badlands, facilitate a discussion on structures of myth and how they operate in Hamilton’s work overall. I contend that the simultaneous presence of dualities, such as familiarity and unfamiliarity, in Hamilton’s work complicates notions of the South as fixed and static. In addition, I go beyond identifying and explicating structures of myth in Hamilton’s work in order to address the problems of metaphor that surface when myth is destabilized. Throughout this thesis I also undertake a speculative exercise in thinking through the unique challenges of writing about a young, early career artist who is emerging into the art world in a temporal moment in which identity and place are especially charged. I use examples from Hamilton’s practice in the effort to grapple with the more general question of how to write about and theorize the work of a young artist who is still developing her voice and her practice



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