Gia Hamilton: The curator reopens the New Orleans African American Museum
The Impact Issue
Queen Diamond of Democratic Republic of Congo visits NOAAM
“The luminaries who contributed included architects Marshall Brown as well as Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano of LOT-EK, curator Gia Hamilton, filmmaker dream hampton, The Roots founding member Black Thought, and scholar and musician Beth Coleman, among many others. It was also a true festival. On and around the courtyard’s stage, there were performances by the children of Make Music NOLA and by the Washitaw Nation, who marched in their vibrant feathered costumes and got the whole yard moving. Stilt walkers (commissioned by Tulsa-based artist Crystal Z. Campbell) roamed about, performing in conversation with the Bell Artspace’s 19th-century architecture.”
After a 6-year closure, the African American Museum in Treme is back to tell the story of the contributions of blacks to our city, state and our culture.
Museum director Gia Hamilton says this is a fresh start for a once troubled institution.
The council will advise on artist selections, public programing, and publication projects for Prospect.5 and will comprise Rita Gonzalez, curator of contemporary art at LACMA; Deana Haggag, president of United States Artists, Chicago; Gia Hamilton, executive director and chief curator at the New Orleans African American Museum; Eungie Joo, curator of contemporary art at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Thomas J. Lax, associate curator of media and performance art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Courtney J. Martin, deputy director and chief curator at the Dia Art Foundation, New York; Valerie Cassel Oliver, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; and Franklin Sirmans, director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami.
“In order to really have a clear vision, you have to let go of certain things. You have to have a paradigm shift. Part of this whole methodology is about how do we collectively let go of things that aren’t working so that we can make space for things that might work.”
Fear: Black Mirror delves into the unintended consequences of technology; what worries me is life imitating art and art imitating life. Even with our intellectual capacity to envision conflicts and moral and ethical dilemmas, we continue to make short-sighted decisions about power, resources, and energy that are inequitable and unsustainable. When we act with intellect without empathy, innovation without self awareness, power without discernment or wisdom, then we let ourselves be slaves to our egos.
Hope: Our ability to imagine a new future, to conceptualize and explore new truths. Artists are trained to visualize original ideas, create discourse that can lead us with creativity. It is our time to examine our economic, political, and religious systems; do these systems work for all people? If not, how do we use an intersectional praxis to create solutions that are harmonious, thoughtful, and filled with empathy and connection?
New Orleans Tribune
“My anthropological lens colors everything, for instance I am constantly observing the culture of organizations, corporations and informal groups and it informs our entry point in a more focused way. This way of approaching the programming allows me to be thoughtful because I acknowledge all the moving pieces around me, so there is a much more integrative and interdependent approach to working.”
Alliance of Artist Communities
“I am thinking about the term social practice. It is the newest buzzword to describe the way in which performing artists have created work for a very long time, but more specifically I am thinking about how we as stewards at the residency create a platform and systems for social practice artists to connect in the city of New Orleans and everywhere that the Foundation has a presence.
I am very interested in how we diversify both the audiences and artists that we host at the Center and how we engage with our local community here. It is a lot of responsibility to be a good neighbor, leader, connector, and conductor of resources.”