Ann Hamilton: The Art of it All

Artist Ann Hamilton working on the installation of the event of a thread (2012-13) at the Park Avenue Armory  in New York. Photo Credit: Thibault Jeanson

Artist Ann Hamilton working on the installation of the event of a thread (2012-13) at the Park Avenue Armory in New York.


Ann Hamilton just doesn’t slow down. The accomplished and widely recognized artist, and Ohio State professor, has been collecting some lofty recognition lately, from a commission for a public installation on Seattle’s waterfront to having the highest U.S. artistic honor bestowed upon her. In between, Ohio State has established a new archive that chronicles the entire history of her groundbreaking work.

The American Academy of Arts and Letters announced in March that it will induct nine new members into its 250-person organization in mid-May, including Ann Hamilton, professor, Department of Art, and Distinguished University Professor.

"The honor of election is considered the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in the United States."

The American Academy of Arts and Letters is an honor society of 250 architects, composers, artists and writers. Members of the academy are elected for life; as vacancies occur, the academicians nominate and elect new members.

The City of Seattle also has announced that Hamilton has been selected for a commission to create a large public art installation on a new waterfront development in Seattle. The installation will become the centerpiece of Waterfront Seattle, to be constructed on new public piers there. She will join a team of architects, planners and city designers to create the project over the next several years.

Seattle is making the quality of its public spaces a central project in the imagination of the city. And I’m really thrilled to be able to participate and be part of that. {Ann Hamilton}

Archived: Preserving the Ephemeral

Some of Ann Hamilton’s work represented in the VRL Archive: (from L to R) between taxonomy and communion (1990), indigo blue (1991/2007), and reciprocal fascinations (1985).

Some of Ann Hamilton’s work represented in the VRL Archive: (from L to R) between taxonomy and communion (1990), indigo blue (1991/2007), and reciprocal fascinations (1985).


Hamilton’s works are being digitally archived in a new publicly accessible collection within the university’s Visual Resources Library, housed in the Department of History of Art.

“Although my work has been materially dense, many of the projects are ultimately ephemeral. This documentation becomes very important as it gives the work a longer life and makes their fuller history and documentation accessible to students and researchers. They continue the conversation and circulation of ideas after a show comes down,” said Hamilton.

The collection—the Ann Hamilton Project Archive—contains more than 1,000 downloadable, high-resolution images from 35 art installations by Hamilton, ranging from her time as a graduate student at the Yale School of Art to her current large-scale multi-media installations exhibited worldwide. The digitization of the collection is ongoing and publicly available through vrl.osu.edu.

Andrew Shelton, chair of the Department of History of Art, summarized the importance of the collection this way: “Professor Hamilton is one of the most important artists active in the world today, and it is a real privilege for the Department of History of Art to play some role in the preservation and dissemination of her incredibly innovative and provocative work. That Ann has entrusted this task to the Visual Resources Library is also a fitting testament, I believe, to the dedication and hard work of the VRL’s talented staff, who are always seeking new ways to serve the entire university community.”

The archive, run by Stephanie Bernhardt, curator, and Michelle Maguire, associate curator, is an online resource containing downloadable high-resolution images (both licensed and restricted) that may be used for teaching and research by individuals at Ohio State and beyond. All images are downloadable as TIFF files at 600 dpi.

The VRL began digitizing and archiving Hamilton’s works two years ago. Each digital image contains detailed metadata—including extensive descriptions of the works, titles, dates, materials, sites, size and more.

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