Ann Hamilton (American, b.1956) is well known throughout the world as a sensory artist who combines sculptures, textiles, and fabric within her installations, videos, objects, photographs, and performances. She was born in Lima, OH, and graduated with a BFA in textiles from the University of Kansas in 1979. Hamilton then moved on to the Yale School of Art in New Haven, CT, to receive an MFA in sculpture in 1985. After she graduated, her first known piece was Toothpick Suit. For this work, she arranged thousands of toothpicks in the fashion of a porcupine along a suit of clothes, which she modeled and photographed. Hamilton began teaching at the University of California in Santa Barbara, where she remained until 1991. In 1992, she moved back to Ohio, and settled in Columbus. In 2001, Hamilton became an art professor at Ohio State University.
Hamilton creates large-scale architecturally influenced sculptures and installations. Each is comprised of a variety of materials and objects. One of her most recent exhibitions, Ann Hamilton at Hand, was shown at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. This interactive show featured a collection of machines suspended from the ceiling. Periodically, white pieces of typing paper fluttered to the floor while faint recorded voices whispered in the background. Hamilton has also worked with video and photography. Using a unique approach, the artist places a small camera in her mouth and takes pictures of those who have come to see her work.
In 1993, she was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, and was selected to represent the United States at both the 1991 São Paulo Biennale and the 1999 Venice Biennale. Her submission in the Contemporary Art exhibition consisted of a series of walls covered with Braille writing. A red powder slowly cascaded down the walls, creating a spontaneous design on the raised dots. In 2007, Hamilton was granted a fellowship from the Agnes Gund Foundation, and received a $50,000 grant from the United States Artists public charity. In 2008, Hamilton won the 14th Annual Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities, and launched an exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York the following year. One notable piece from the show was called Human Carriage, which was constructed from a variety of materials, including cloth, wire, bells, books, string, and pipe. A cage fastened with Tibetan bells was hoisted overhead by a pulley system constructed largely from cut-up books. Once released, the cage spiraled down, and the bells chimed, drawing the attention of spectators.
Hamilton was also instrumental in creating the design for the Allegheny Riverfront Park in Pittsburgh, PA. Her major museum installations around the world include the Contemporary Art Museum in Kunamoto, Japan in 2006, The Wanas Foundation in Knislinge, Sweden in 2002, the Art Institute of Chicago in 1995, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, CA, in 1988. Hamilton currently lives and works in Columbus, OH.