Visiting Artist Lecture Response #1 - Harmony Hammond
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.