Allison Janae Hamilton
A dark, sepia-toned portrait of a ghostly African American couple standing in an eerie swamp.

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Haints at Swamp II.
Collection of the artist

Allison Janae Hamilton’s haunting, whimsical portraits explore cultural memories and history. This portrait is from her recent series, Kingdom of the Marvelous, which she describes as a “restaging of photographs from my collection of my family’s photo albums from rural Tennessee as well as classic studio and fashion portraits depicting African American life.” She explores representation and self-fashioning by drawing attention to “persistent gestures in both studio and vernacular portraiture of the first half of the twentieth century.” In this series Hamilton constructs elements of her sitters’ garments from animal hides, antlers, skins, and heads. She also incorporates lace, flowers, veils, church fans, tambourines, and food items to animate her “play on cultural history and memory and [to] toy with expectations of identity and culture against a rural landscape.”