January 2013 Archives

Harmony Hammond

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I was excited to hear how Harmony Hammond's personal experience as a female artist during the feminist movement of the 60's and 70's influenced how her work developed over the years. Though I did find her content and concepts very interesting I wished she had spoken more about the connection to her personal experiences. As an apparel designer I found her work with fabric and reference to the female figure especially relatable. I was intrigued most by her reference to traditional female roles with the rugs and needlework. The suggestion that these domestic acts are in some ways demeaning was relevant at one point in time however, in our current age I feel it no longer has the same impact. As someone who uses sewing and needlework as a form of expression and a chosen career path, this idea is almost offensive and I think her play on traditional domestic female roles could be revisited.


I found the idea of building a painting from the inside out a compelling concept. Especially when related to skin and the human body. Prior to hearing her speak, her work did not have the same impact for me. When standing alone her work, though beautiful and intriguing, did not translate her concepts nearly as deeply as her talk did.

Kora Gleason

Harmony Hammond

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Harmony Hammond is quirky, angsty, and serious all at once. Her talk was very inspiring and educational for women artists and the lesbian community. I especially liked her method of deconstructing the conceptual base to her paintings, particularly the ones that referenced skin, bodies, and both a physical and conceptual binding and entrapment. As my current work also uses the physicality of a 2d medium to conceptually reference bodies, skin, wounds, scars and scabs to inspire an emotional response and personal reflection, I was immediately intrigued to hear more about Harmony's conceptual intentions. After listening to her talk in its entirety, I found myself both pleased and disappointed by her work. I loved her attention to detail, even within abstraction. Each strip of fabric, smear of paint, and small grommet whole had a conceptual purpose that reflected her thoughts and opinions on female identity and the expectations and challenges of women artists. With an intaglio printmaking background myself, and a strong conceptual base to my own work, I fully appreciate the physical and conceptual purpose of each and every small component in Harmony's works. With that said, i did not have near as strong of an attraction to her work prior to hearing her speak. Not that her work is not good or can't hold its own weight, but it seemed to lack the necessary cues or conceptual hints in order to lead her viewer into the meaning of her work as she described it in her lecture. Overall I think Harmony has come very far since her graduation form the University of Minnesota and her work is both an inspiration and a milestone for female artists. However, personally, her work does not inspire and intrigue near as much as her informative talk about her work does.

Bryn R Gleason

Harmony Hammond Talk

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Harmony's talk seemed to flow very well and I think everything tied in together quite well. For example, interestingly enough, she spoke about when she was an undergraduate student, her painting instructors did not at all discuss content in painting, but instead only discussed technique and formal aspects of her painting. During this period, ironically, she was painting "hermaphrodites" or figural subject matter. After she was done with school it seemed like, maybe due or not due to her instruction, she completely moved away from any sort of representational work and focused only on highly abstract work. Her first post-graduate work, the smooth paintings that she intended to "one up the boys" in New York, to me seemed completely devoid of meaning and totally derivative. It was as if she was making this work because it was "in style" and that was what she was exposed to. Her work, I think reached it's most interesting point when she started to get involved with A.I.R. and merged traditional women's arts and crafts with painting. The bags were some of my favorite pieces because they were the most forward-looking, non-formal pieces I think she has created.

Her newer work, while definitely aesthetically interesting, I found to be somewhat devoid of meaning and less accessible, especially from the perspective of third wave feminism. While I thought the grommet pieces and the latest paintings had a completely industrial, sort of blue-collar feel, she failed to point that out, and her comparisons with these being similar to skin struck me as completely off-mark. While Harmony's talk was interesting, her art to me felt very 2nd wave, as she never seemed to think outside of the gallery setting or the more formal aspects of the art world. Her art to me seems inaccessible and inexplainable to women of poverty and color, with the exception of her work from the early 70s.

Harmony Hammond

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Overall I thought Harmony Hammond's talk was quite enjoyable. The most recent work that she presented to the audience captivated my attention the more than the older pieces mostly because of the way she was able to manipulate fabric to appear as if it were some highly thought out strokes of her paint brush. I didn't know much about Harmony Hammond before listening to her presentation and I was intrigued with how much of activist she was with the woman's stance in artwork. Another thing that grabbed my attention was not necessarily her artwork but the way she spoke about her pieces. At times I felt as if I were at a book reading and somebody else besides Harmony were reading her bibliography of artworks instead of Harmony herself describing her work. At times I found this method of presenting her work enjoyable while at other times I would have like to have her explain her reasoning behind certain pieces (such as the monochromatic paintings) than she did.
Another portion of her presentation that I really enjoyed was how she seemed to be openly political with her artwork explaining her stance on feminist art. She took a lot of risks with her work (I'm thinking of the hermaphrodite painting she early on in her career particularly) and I got the feeling that she knew what she wanted her work to stand for early on in her life and I was really impressed by that.

Lecture #1 - Harmony Hammond

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Visiting Artist Lecture Response #1 - Harmony Hammond
Bailey Haack
30 January 2013

When I came into the room for Harmony Hammond's talk, I had no idea what to expect, but when I found out that she would be discussing feminist art, I got pretty excited. However, I felt like I didn't really get much of a sense of her own personal experiences as a feminist artist, which was disappointing because that was something I had hoped to hear about. She did provide a lot of interesting background around the feminist movement and she discussed a lot of organizations and artists that I had never heard of before.
I thought it was very interesting how Harmony referred to the paint as the skin of the painting, and how she said that the materials and the way they're manipulated influence the viewer's perception as much as the technique and form. I have heard some different views on this from various working artists, many of whom agree that the materials, when deliberately chosen, can have just as much effect on the impact of the piece as the simple visual quality. I enjoyed how Harmony described her techniques specifically to provide more context for the pieces she showed. Her use of both stretched canvas and other fabric structures showed an interesting dynamic in her work - I liked that she didn't just stick with painting normal stretched canvas but instead worked on fabric and used in different ways.
Harmony's use of traditional "feminine" roles in her work, such as rug-making and sewing was interesting to me as well. I have noticed that many feminist artists have 'reclaimed' these traditional roles, using them to make statements about feminism, and sometimes they're effective and sometimes they aren't. I thought Harmony's Presences made good use of traditionally feminine stitching to form life-sized, garment-like structures that were both standoffish and foreboding while also being made of soft and comforting materials. I wish that Harmony had gone into more about her process with the Presences and how they came to be.
Finally, I wish that Harmony had addressed her role in the lesbian and non-heterosexual community more. I know now that she played a major part in the lesbian art movement, and I felt as though she didn't really go far enough into how she got involved and what motivated her to be a part of this movement. I hope to learn more about her in the future, as well as some of the organizations and other artists who she talked about and who were involved in the show.

Harmony Hammond- Evelyn Kim

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Harmony Hammond's talk was very interesting yet inspirational. This was actually my first time seeing and listening to a feminist artist talking about her work. I was always interested in the varieties of work that portrays the role of a woman, physically and emotionally. The most inspiring work from Harmony Hammond's was using different kinds of medium by putting her progress of her biography. Starting from painting, then moved into sculpture and utilizing cloth for an interesting feel of texture. I think using the varieties of the medium in Harmony Hammond's unified really well in terms of colors and texture which I can feel the equal connection between her biography and the work itself together. Out of all of her works, the utilization of fabric and clothes to feel the rigid texture and color was one of the most inspiring works of Harmony Hammond. The work definitely portrayed her feelings into a precise abstract form. Although, it was hard to understand the piece at first by looking, but as she explained her work I was able to understand better.
The collaborative work with another feminist art was very inspiring also. It was rather interesting how the feminist artist collaborate to create the innovative work of art to emphasize the icon of a woman.

Evelyn Kim

Harmony Hammond - Kortney Formanek

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I enjoyed Harmony's talk, I found her work with the feminist movement to be very intriguing and informational. However her background information did not seem very personal it almost seemed too planned and almost choppy, nonetheless very informational and important to her work. I was not aware of Harmony so listening to her story made me so proud of her (sounds a bit cheesy) but while I listened to her speak I was so happy for her and other women.

Another factor I thought was valuable to her talk, was her explanation of what feminist art meant to her, I thought it to be most interesting because it was very personal and allowed me to look at her work from the artist's point of view. Harmony's talk was beneficial to me because she explained her background and the thoughts that went into her work and made me aware of how her art is important.

The way she explained her use of fabric on the stretched canvas was beautifully stated, she said that the fabric pieces against the canvas creates brush strokes. I loved how she also referred to her wrapped pieces as bodies and the paint was to represent the skin of the bodies.

When Harmony spoke about each of her pieces she stated how she thought of each of them as paintings. I thought this to be interesting because she considers herself a painter, yet she uses fabric, paint, and other things to create 3-D works of art.

Harmony Hammond

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I found the Harmony Hammond visit to be quite interesting. It was nice that we got to not only see her work, but she also talked about what drove her to make these works of art and things she was interested in while creating these works. Though, I was more of a fan of her earlier work it was nice to get her perspective on why she created these giant canvases with toggles and how she related them to human orifices. It was indeed very fascinating to have her explain how she created texture in her paintings, by wrapping cloth behind the canvas to create curves, which could possibly be another hint at the human body. Also, adding cloth to the front of pieces to appear wrinkly or curvier. These things that she talked about gave me more insight into how to view her work because my first glance at these pieces I wasn't very interested in them. Though, as she described her process of creating them, I became more interested in the way that they were put together.
The collaboration work she did with other feminist artists was inspiring. As a woman artist back in the 1970s you didn't have much respect because that was more of the man's activity. The fact that she was persistent in creating her work and didn't seem to get discouraged by her male colleagues was motivating. To be able to get so many women together to create a group that supports each other and their art work is amazing! The fact that they did more than one collaborative event was great, because there was this continues bond that they all had in supporting each other.

-Moriah Kelly

Harmony Hammond (response by Nina Allen)

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I found that the talk by Harmony Hammond was very inspirational. I have been very interested in working with other artist as a team and have found it can be very beneficial to create a strong network. She spoke of her collaborative work and her interactions with other artists.
I felt like her talk was presented more as a biography and it may have been more interesting to hear her speak of her processes. When she began to move to the end of her talk she was rushed because she spend a lot of time talking about her life. She began to describe the materials but then simply said, "You can see the materials." I wanted to hear more about her progressions and her processes.
I enjoyed that she brought up that many artists do not have the opportunity to have their own showing and are often over looked. She explained that the world of art is more excepting of female artist and those of different sexual identities in current times. I think she helped open the paths for other female artist and those who are not heterosexual.

-Nina Allen

Harmony Hammond Talk

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Harmony Hammond's talk was very interesting to me from several perspectives, but I think that the most interesting thing that she talked about was the work on collaborative art, as with the group of feminist artists on the magazine Heresies. I feel, that in the world of art in particular, there is such an overemphasis placed on originality and uniqueness that artists are afraid to work together. They fear that if they are found to make something with the help of others, it no longer belongs to them alone and is not truly unique, but rather that they have collectively stolen from each other's brains.
In fact the opposite is true. When artists are unafraid to work together, they are able to develop their craft in a way previously inexpressible. Working together forces artists to examine the faults and flaws in their own natural thinking, which, when working alone, they cannot see.
Also, contrary to the common fears of a lack of uniqueness in their work, the collaborative effort creates something that is more unique, because this fusion of two (or more) artists is something that is unique from both of their individual works. Each, without the other, cannot attain what they can create when working side by side.
Harmony Hammond touched on a wide range of topics, illustrated numerous pieces of her own art, as well as sharing much of her own life story. But the thing that stuck out the most to me was the shared effort between the women working on Heresies. I was greatly cheered to see that not all artists are so self-absorbed as to ignore any open hand of friendship that comes their way.

Harmony Hammond

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Hi Everyone.

There were a couple of thoughts that came to me most strongly out of Harmony Hammond's talk. The first thing that struck me was the way in which she spoke about her art, which sometimes seemed impersonally analytical. By that I mean that there were several points in her discussion of her work that sounded like a written treatise about an artist other than herself, very formal, planned, reflective but not in a way that sounded personal to me, more like what someone else viewing her work might write about it for an article or review of an exhibition. I just found that curious. Especially because I noticed it most when she spoke about her more recent work. I would expect this approach to be more likely when describing earlier work from which one was more distant, both in a time sense and in the sense of artistic/emotional attachment.

Her work that was least compelling to me were the bags and "Presences" of the early 70s, though her idea that they could be altered, "retouched, reconfigured and repaired like women's lives" [paraphrased], something she referred to as having a "survivor aesthetic," made them more interesting to me, especially when considered in the context of the time.

What I found most interesting was the idea that feminist ideas/ideals were explored artistically not so much through subject matter as through materials, texture and placement. Especially I found the "Floor Paintings" the work that drew me most. Those were the large-scale, thick braided rugs as paint surfaces, exhibited on the floor with blank walls around them. I felt this best captured her desire to integrate traditional feminine crafts with contemporary fine art painting, and the idea of calling into question the assumptions about the "place" of painting, as far as feminist/queer art. I really liked when she said that and found it most thought-provoking.

I especially thought about this idea of subject vs. medium/materials/surface/placement approach (need a good word for all of that together, but can't find one at the moment, "content" maybe, though that still suggests something synonymous to subject) - I especially thought about that in contrast to some of the pieces in the Nash gallery show, in particular that print (?) of a close-up of a used tampon being removed from a woman's vagina. When I saw that I thought how the artist was trying to use a "shock and awe" attack through her subject matter, but it fell far short, in my opinion, to being thought-provoking or promoting any kind of social advancement. Honestly, it felt artistically immature to me.

Comparing that tampon piece to Hammond's "Flap," is very telling. "Flap" was the near-monochromatic orange piece shown towards the end of her lecture. It was a large canvas with a sort of seam in the middle where two portions of canvas meet and slightly overlap. Only the edges of the seam were sown down, so that the middle was slightly loose and had a bit of natural shadow from the lighting, suggesting an opening or, as she put it, alluding to a "hidden space,...an equal third zone under the flap." In this simple way she brought forth her rejection of a polarized idea of gender. The tampon, on the other hand, does the opposite; it instead creates more distance, it is not embracing but repulsive (in both its senses.)

The last thing that really struck me was how far feminist art had come in such a short period of time. I do think there are great women artists that did not necessarily specifically think of themselves as feminist artists but are definitely part of this story that she did not speak about (Louise Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun, Georgia O'Keefe and Frida Kahlo for example), but of course that brings it into a larger art historical context. It is exciting to look at the way things have changed in just one lifetime and look at it all in the context of one artist's experiences as both creator and participant/observer, especially one involving the local Twin Cities scene. I remember both the WARM and Glen Hanson's gallery in the Wyman Building, and was pretty active in that Warehouse District scene, though a little later in the eighties and nineties. Still it makes me aware of all that was going on and being attended to that I did not put much thought into at that point in my life. Women artists do need to be consciously aware of what these feminist art movements of the 70s and early 80s achieved, because it did dramatically change the conversation of contemporary art. It is easy to be complacent about it at this point, yet today's artists and others in the art scene, even though they might not be aware of it, continue to benefit from this work.

-- Allison Ruby
January 27, 2013

How to add a post

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Hi everyone,

Just in case you are new to U Think I have added instructions for adding posts below, including information on adding categories which will make my task a lot easier.

When you log into UThink you will see at the top a tab that says "system overview", if you click here you should see a drop down with our blog listed. Click on the name of the blog (visiting artists program) and to the right will appear a red tab labelled "write entry". Click on that and you're off.

On the right side of the page where you create your post there is a box titled "categories", in here I have created a category for every event in the schedule. When you create your comment, please check the appropriate category in the box.

Thanks, I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Will


P.S. you will need to go here: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/uthink/ to log in.

Visiting Artists Program Spring 2013

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Welcome to the Visiting Artists Blog! My name is Christina Schmid, and I am the designated instructor for ArtS 3420: Visiting Artist Program in spring 2013.

We have exciting sequence of Visiting Artist lectures this semester. Here is a quick preview:

On January 24, at 5 p.m., Harmony Hammond will start out the Visiting Artist Program at the Regis Art Center. Hammond is visiting in conjunction with "The House We Built," an exhibition of feminist art at the Nash Gallery.

On January 31, at 7 p.m., a panel discussion with Joanna Inglot and members of the WARM collective will further engage with feminist art.

On March 7, Laylah Ali will speak at the Weisman Art Museum at 7 p.m., followed by Dianna Molzan's visit on March 14, at the Walker Art Center in conjunction with the new exhibition Painter Painter.

Visiting faculty Christina Schmid will talk about arts writing on April 4 at the Regis Center.

On April 18, Penelope Umbrico will present her work before Mathew Zefeldt, visiting faculty at the Department of Art, will finish the program on April 25.

The purpose of this blog is to provide on online forum for students to share their insights, comments, and reflections after each talk. Please consult the syllabus for details on the expectations for each posting.

The blog will be monitored by Will Lakey, a graduate student in the Department of Art and the teaching assistant for ArtS3420: Visiting Artist Program.

I hope we're off to a good semester and look forward to seeing you all at the visiting artist lectures this semester!

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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