Russell M. Hamilton
Studio / Creative Research
Textile Montage Work Current
My mother, a creative maverick for her generation; seamstress, writer and published author, has always been a creative influence on me, something I wasn't always consciously aware of. It was this past summer, having returned 'home' after 20 years abroad, that I realized her interest and history of working with fabric and sewing was also, so to speak, in my DNA.
In July of 2021, I was invited to Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture for a three-week residency, it was there that I started working with fabric, paper, and old clothing patterns. I am currently exploring new work using these materials, both in 2D and 3D work, as I continue to explore my familial, cultural, social, and spiritual identity.
An Individual's Seed 2016
The story of Noah’s Ark is found in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, and is well understood and interpreted metaphorically, socially, politically, and culturally throughout the world.
Interpretively, the Ark is a carrier and transporter, much like we as individuals are carriers and transporters: intellectually, creatively, physically, psychologically, and physiologically. We move from place to place bringing with us a multitude of ideas, behaviors, perceptions, and preferences. These provide possibilities for change, adaptation, assimilation, and hopefully growth, both individually and collectively.
We are also carriers on an intrinsic level, transporting the potential for life; like the seeds of plants, our own genetic seed is carried and transmitted, and thus, we ensure the continuation of our own familial lines: possibilities and potentials.
We have an ideal sense of ourselves, and form an understanding of the archetype that we believe we are molded from. However, we are merely human beings, and not prophets or messengers, but just perhaps, they are the archetype of that which we aspire. The idea of Archetypes being genetically based, is an area discussed by Carl Jung, here it is referenced to identify the idea of a collective and simultaneously, an individual identity. Although aspiration to the archetype of the prophet or messenger may not actually be that alluring, considering the plight of the prophets/messengers:
This work is directly influenced by one of the simplest forms of human transportation: the Palanquin.
The palanquin was used in a variety of cultures/societies, and is associated with elite or selects individuals. The Ark only carried pairs of animals, and an elite or select group of human beings (those with the correct ‘seeds’).
The Palanquin, is used to carry only one person, and is not ‘fueled’ by water, as is a boat, or steam as is a train, or even wind as is a glider. It is human powered, and must be carried by other individuals; 'the many carrying the one'. An elitist position, no doubt, and one that examines our sense of the ego-based archetype: we all think we are important and of value, worthy of being carried on the ark, of being upon that which is correct and good and not that which is incorrect and evil.
“IM-MIGRANT” Sangkring Art Space Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Solo Exhibition 2019
Im-migration is a sculptural installation consisting of 14-17 individual sculptural elements; figurative, animals, boats, ladders, and bridges.
The work explores the ideas of human migration and the impact that migration has on the immigrant and the resident, and how this is at the core of human and social development. It also looks to address the impact on native peoples, as our communities and social structures were forever altered by the arrival of immigrants; both those that arrived by their own free will and those that were brought against their will. We are all connected to the history of migration as our people, and we ourselves, look for new possibilities.
Logos and Eros
I spent the early years of my creative life, actually up through Graduate school, focusing on trying to understand who I was; the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of my identity and existence. This research focused on the ideas of personas, and the 'masks' we often wear, in hopes of blending in with our social environment. Why is there a need to blend-in? Why are we not celebrating being different? I realized it had much to do with my education, or mis-education, and thus my identity was skewed. So seeking an understanding who I was from a cultural, social, and ‘racial’ perspective was of great importance.
My research This work came to an end following the completion of my first academic year in graduate school, when my final outdoor installation; "persona's: was blind", was blown over by heavy winds. It was an appropriate ending to my search.
During the summer, I embarked on a new path of creative discovery at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. This new research was an extension to my previous quest, working through an understanding, connection, and acceptance of my relationship with my father, Russell George Hamilton.
I started with two simple signifiers; birthmarks that we both have. Mine on my chest directly over my heart and my fathers on his forehead directly over his brain. The dichotomy of Logos and Eros began, and the use of two visual and metaphorical oval circles became the basis for my creative work; seeking to understand my self through this connection. While at Skowhegan I had the pleasure of sharing my thoughts with artists Anish Kapoor, Houston Conwill, and Italo Scanga.
Smart Healthcare: Mood Adaptive Tool for Hospital Patients 2017 - 2019
Collaborative research on the use of digital imaging and sound, as a mood enhancing vehicle to assist in-patient healing within a hospital environment. This research is currently funded by a Research Incentive Funding grant, in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic Hospital Abu Dhabi.
Russell Hamilton PI and Dr May El Barachi.
"The IASO Self-Reporting System: A Persuasive Clinical Mood Tracking and Management Application for Hospital Patients," Submitted November 2018 to the International Journal of Healthcare Information Systems and Informatics (IJHISI).
The Village Square:
The Poetics of Community 2018
Explores the ideas of human interaction and social structures, both naturally developed and covertly imposed. Through human interaction, social structures are designed, and implemented at various hierarchical levels; dividing us into groups, based on socio-economic principles, such as income, religion, gender, language, nationality, ethnicity, and the fallacy of race.
Structures, like principles, give us a context for action, much like the visual poetics of form give us a context for inter-action. The town square is also a central location, a gathering place where commerce and socializing occur, and thus, where the visitor and resident may meet.