Ann Hamilton is a visual artist internationally recognized for her large-scale multimedia installations, public projects, and performance collaborations. Responsive to the contingencies of the sites where she works, her recurring forms—cloth, texts spoken and written, animals, and people suspended or in motion—immerse viewers in an atmosphere both visceral and literary, individual and collective, animate and inanimate, silent and spoken. Noted for a dense accumulation of materials, her ephemeral environments respond to the architectural presence and social history of their sites. Among her many honors, Hamilton has been the recipient of the National Medal of the Arts, Heinz Award, MacArthur Fellowship, United States Artists Fellowship, NEA Visual Arts Fellowship, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture, and the Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. She represented the United States in the 21st São Paulo Biennial and the 48th Venice Biennial and has exhibited extensively around the world. Hamilton is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Art at The Ohio State University.
Michael Mercil received an MFA from the University of Chicago in 1988, and a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design in 1978. His art explores the realms of “the near, the low, the common” in works somewhere close to—if not always within—the categories of sculpture, drawing, painting, landscape architecture, film, performance, and farming. His work has been included in solo and group exhibitions organized by museums and art centers throughout the United States. Mercil is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Art at The Ohio State University.
In 2005, Hamilton and Mercil began The Living Culture Initiative as a loosely organized array of cross-campus partnerships integrating a variety of contemporary art practices into the core research framework of OSU.
Ann Hamilton and Michael Mercil were the spring quarter visiting artists in residence. Their visit took place from April 20 to 29, 2022. They conducted eight graduate student critiques and led a seminar of thirteen students composed of undergraduate Art Studio majors and graduate students. The seminar explored the place of the visual arts in a research institution through two discussion-based seminars and four site visits to facilities managed by the Department of Animal Science and Department of Plant Sciences. Students were provided short suggested readings for the first discussion session on Friday, April 21, which was titled, "What is an AgriCulture?". On Monday, April 25, the class visited the Beef Cattle Barn and UC Davis Herbarium. On Tuesday, April 26, the class visited the Swine Center and Living Plant Collection at the Botanical Conservatory. The seminar concluded on Wednesday, April 27 with the second discussion session, titled, "Our Problem with Language." Graduate students organized a potluck dinner on Mrak lawn on Friday, April 21 to welcome Hamilton and Mercil to campus. Their visit concluded with a public lecture on Thursday, April 28 at 4:30 p.m. in the Pitzer Center.
Banner image: Ann Hamilton and Michael Mercil portraits courtesy of Ann Hamilton Studio