Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Harmony Hammond

Harmony Hammond

Harmony Hammond has over 30 solo exhibitions and her work has been shown internationally in venues such as Site Santa Fe; New Museum, NYC; Smack Mellon Studios, Brooklyn; Bronx Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; P.S.1, Long Island City, Queens; White Columns, NYC; Brooklyn Museum; Armand Hammer Museum, UCLA; the National Women's Museum of Arts, Washington D.C., the American Center, Paris; and the Haags Gementemuseum, Netherlands, among others. Her work is represented by Dwight Hackett projects in Santa Fe. Currently her work is included in two important exhibtions: "WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution" at the MOCA, Los Angeles (traveling to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, PS 1 MOMA, and the Vancouver Art Gallery and "High Times, Hard Times: New York Painting 1967-1975", at the National Academy Museum, NYC thru April, then traveling to the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City. There are catalogs for both exhibitions. Hammond's work is in the permanent collections of many museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Walker Art Center; the Brooklyn Museum; the National Museum of Women in the Arts; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Wadsworth Atheneum. She has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Adolph and Esther Gottlieb, Joan Mitchell, Andrea Frank, and Pollock-Krasner Foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the author of the award-winning book "Lesbian Art in America: A Contemporary History" (Rizzoli, 2000).
The post-modern focus on representation, contributed to an inaccurate reading of the creative climate in New York during the late 1960s and ’70s, a period of interdisciplinary experimentation that resulted in work both conceptual and abstract. Artists moved between the disciplines ignoring, crossing, dissolving boundaries. Abstract painting, especially that coming out of post-minimal concerns of materials and process, was central to the experimentation. Painters interrogated the components of traditional painting—support, ground, pigment, shape, and placement. Paint was a material to be manipulated like any other, such as felt, wax, fiberglass, or dirt. Likewise, nontraditional materials—such as latex rubber, polyurethane, tar, blood—could be used as pigment. Paintings were shaped, unstretched, draped, woven, flocked, stitched, bejeweled, and grommeted. Slowly, painting was subjected to the force of gravity, taken out of the rectangle and off the wall, relaxed, collapsed, and reconfigured. Feminism brought a gendered content to this way of working. I moved to New York’s Lower East Side, and then to the corner of Spring and West Broadway in early fall 1969. It was a period of civil rights and antiwar activism, the gay liberation movement, the second wave feminist movement, and the birth of feminist art. I was influenced by and contributed to early feminist art projects. I painted on blankets, curtains, and bedspreads recycled from women friends, literally putting my life in my art. Rag strips dipped in paint and attached to the painting surface hung down like three-dimensional brushstrokes, their weight altering the painting rectangle. Eventually the rags took over and activated the painting field. Girdle, consisted of a soft crocheted grid altered by the weight of the painted rags. This led to the series Bags, and the slightly larger than life-size Presences. These new pieces could be touched, retouched, repaired, and, like women’s lives, reconfigured. In 1973, I created a series of six floor paintings made out of knit fabric my daughter and I picked from dumpsters. Strips of fabric were braided according to traditional braided rug techniques, but slightly larger and thicker in scale, coiled, stitched to a heavy cloth backing, and partially painted with acrylic paint—the “braided rug” literally and metaphorically becoming “the support” for the painting. The Floorpieces occupied and negotiated a space between painting (off the wall) and sculpture (nearly flat). Placed directly on the floor they called into question assumptions about the “place” of painting.

View Harmony Hammond's CV (PDF)

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Galisteo, New Mexico


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