Los Angeles-based textile artist Karen Hampton examines the African-American diaspora in an exhibition that explores her personal and ancestral narrative. Karen Hampton: The Journey North, organized by the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College, features new and recent textile works that tie together stories of Hampton’s multicultural heritage, from her family’s colonial past to her present experiences as a person of African, Caribbean, and American descent.
The multilayered installation showcases the aesthetic and conceptual richness of Hampton’s textile works, which are interwoven with myriad genealogical references, and serve as a powerful vehicle for instilling the experiences of those who came before her while charting and claiming Hampton’s own unique place within that history. The exhibition is co-curated by Associate Professor of Art History at Hamilton College Stephen J. Goldberg and Susanna White, former Associate Director and Senior Curator of Collections at the Wellin Museum of Art.
Karen Hampton: The Journey North is organized around several narrative threads that, when woven together, culminate in a complex tapestry of Hampton’s hopes and visions for African-American lives. A self-described “griot” (the keeper and transmitter of the genealogies of a people), Hampton uses cloth as her medium to embed references to her genealogical discoveries through stitching, weaving, and digitally printing layered images, inscriptions of voices, and other historical markers. Employing embroidery and weaving, Hampton also hand-stitches her family roots to illustrate their “journey north.” She also incorporates modern techniques that include archival photo transfers and painting to embellish and invent a new style of narrative.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website