Due to illness, I was not able to attend Harmony Hammond's lecture, but instead viewed a recording of it after the fact. I don't know if it was merely this fact or something more, but I felt a fairly strong disconnect from both Hammond and her work while listening to her speak. Personally, I'm fascinated by feminist and queer art, and was intrigued by what Hammond would have to say on the subject. However, there was something intangible about the talk that left me wanting more. I didn't feel like I understood Hammond's connection to the movement terribly well, nor did I understand some of the more significant parts. The talk felt at times like a history lesson and at others like a normal artist talk, but somehow those two did not mix together all too well for me. I was still interested in Hammond's work, especially with fabrics and other material choices she made, but all in all I felt that the talk was fairly aloof. As I said, this could have simply been the result of not being there, but nonetheless, it was my experience.
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Overall I enjoyed listening to Harmony Hammond's talk about her work and her experiences as a female artist throughout the years. What really caught my attention was when she stated that as an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota, there were only two female instructors at the time. Which is mind boggling because my experience as an art student has been quite different. Most if not all of my instructors were women, and a majority of students in art classes are women as well. As an undergraduate, her art instructors never really focused on the content of her paintings, but focused on her techniques instead. It was interesting to hear that she was painting "hermaphrodites" but no one ever asked her why at the time, when artists are now expected to talk about their content and personal direction.
As she shifted towards abstract expressionism, she had a solo exhibition at the Coffman Memorial student union gallery. Harmony gave a piece of advice that I thought was helpful for all aspiring artists, which was "It's important to exhibit your work any place you can, to take, or make space". Because I believe it is an important first step to make a path for yourself. Life is a journey and it won't move unless you take action. Hammond later on states her shift into becoming a feminist artist. She brings in gendered content in her work by utilizing materials associated with females, and the way these materials are manipulated also can change how a viewer reacts to her work.
Shifting towards her involvement in A.I.R gallery and W.A.R.M., it was inspiring to hear that it was quite a fright for the members because they didn't know how influential their organization would become, they were all into this together. Members of A.I.R. were given visibility in the visual arts, and they were provided with an important gallery space that allowed them to show any work they wanted.
The way that Harmony talked about about her fabric on canvas works was very poetic and sensual as she described the group of work. She talks about how these canvases are suggestions of the human body, as if the pieces of fabric were a censorship of the female body. Her description as a painter isn't very shocking even though she uses other materials such as fabric or other materials. I believe there are two types of painters, one who thinks of their painting as an image, or one who thinks of their painting as an object, and Hammond sees her paintings as an object.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.