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Ann Hamilton

O N E E V E R Y O N E · St. Louis

2015

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American artist Ann Hamilton’s O N E E V E R Y O N E · St. Louis was developed in response to and in collaboration with Washington University’s Brown School. Commissioned for the School’s Thomas and Jennifer Hillman Hall, a building completed in 2015, this site-specific project consists of a series of portraits of students, faculty, staff, and community partners. To create this work Hamilton photographed nearly three hundred volunteers from the Brown School community during two weeklong residencies. Positioning herself and her camera on one side of a semitransparent membrane, Hamilton used her voice to guide and pose the sitters on the other side. In each photograph the touch of a face, a hand, or a chosen research-related object, such as a book or photograph, against the membrane is revealed in clear focus, while the sitter’s gesture or body outline is rendered more softly. The shallow depth of field, a result of the membrane’s optical qualities, gives the images an overall ethereal quality that harkens back to the advent of portrait photography—one of the earliest forms of commemorative art—while simultaneously producing an uncanny effect. In addition, the emphasis on tactility continues the artist’s longstanding interest in creating work that appeals to senses other than vision. The implicit relationship of the photographer in this exchange between a subject and an artistic voice is one of recognition and respect. For Hamilton this reflects the discipline and practice of social work, which fundamentally seeks to foster mutual understanding and empathy in seeing others like ourselves. A selection of thirty-three of these portraits is installed along the curved interior wall of the building, forming an embrace of Hillman Hall’s Clark-Fox Forum, a major gathering place for the School. [Art on Campus brochure, 2017]

Leslie Markle, Curator for Public Art; Committee Members (voting):

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