A thoughtful journey
Distinguished University Professor Ann Hamilton’s projects have long created conversations in the art world and beyond. Follow along as she takes us on an interactive spoken journey through three of her favorite commissions.
“Where are we now socially? What are the voices we need to hear? What needs to be said? How do we find the form for our questions?”
Those are the questions Ohio State Distinguished University Professor Ann Hamilton in the Department of Art asks herself as she begins a project. Most of her public works are temporary installations that challenge visitors’ habitual perceptions, opening the door for them to consider how opposites can be more alike than different.
Hamilton’s contributions to art were recognized in September when President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama awarded Hamilton a 2014 National Medal of Arts — the highest honor a nation can bestow on an artist.
Hamilton, who was born in Lima, Ohio, learned to knit and sew from her mother and grandmother while growing up in Columbus.
“Cloth is the material that is always touching us. It is the first architecture of the body, and as my work grew, the form extended out to meet the architectural edge,” she said. “So while my work doesn’t look like a weaving, the relationships are woven.”
In 2011, Hamilton was asked to create a permanent installation for Ohio State’s newly refurbished Thompson Memorial Library. Her cork floor in the Buckeye Reading Room is an elaborate linguistic dance, created by an alphabetic intersection and line-by-line weaving of three different accountings of world history that are arranged in a literary concordance.
the event of a thread 2012-2013
Housed in New York’s 55,000-square-foot Park Avenue Armory, this 2012 critically acclaimed temporary installation featured 42 swings that patrons could use to raise and lower a billowing white curtain; actors reading in front of pigeons, the sounds of both crackling over radios in paper bags visitors carried with them; and a new writer every day penning original works based on the art’s elements.
Meditation Boat 2005-2009
In 2008, Hamilton completed construction of a meditation boat as part of The Quiet in the Land project curated by France Morin in Luang Prabang, Laos. The four-year project encountered technical difficulties and weather-related delays. At 118 feet, the boat — which Hamilton gifted to the Sangha monks — features a 65-foot meditation hall and can seat two rows of people. She envisioned they would use the boat, influenced by the architecture and materials of the surrounding temples, to travel beyond the hustle and bustle of the city to quieter sites, where they could meditate and chant in peace.
In good company
Distinguished University Professor of earth sciences and climatologist Lonnie Thompson was bestowed a National Medal of Science in 2007 for his extensive work to provide evidence of climate change.
His research through Ohio State’s Byrd Polar Research Center, which he conducted with his wife and Ohio State geography professor Ellen Mosley Thompson and included more than 50 trips to the polar ice caps and glaciers around the world, has provided irrefutable evidence that the last half-century was the warmest period in recorded history.