May 27 – July 9, 2017
Due to the process-based nature of the Session program, Wonder Room will undergo constant modifications; the features of this page provide accruing information on the project’s developments.
All events are free and open to the public. Events are subject to change.
Film Screening: Homecoming and Dirt and Deeds in Mississippi: Saturday, June 17, 3-5pm
“Deep in the Quiet Wood”: Song Circle with Imani Uzuri: Wednesday, June 21, 6-8pm
Book Club with Shantrelle P. Lewis: Thursday, June 22, 5-7pm
To receive PDFs of the reading, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Open House Reception: Thursday, July 6, 6-8pm
Sunday Dinner (we are no longer accepting RSVPs for this event): Sunday, July 9, 3-6pm
Scholar Regina N. Bradley will write a commissioned text in parallel with Wonder Room, as part of the Critical Writing program.
Keep straight down this block,
Then turn right where you will find
A peach tree blooming.
I give permission
For this slow spring rain to soak
The violet beds.
— Richard Wright (1960)
On May 27, Allison Janae Hamilton will begin work on Wonder Room, a project that will transform Recess into a hybrid of a treehouse, resource lounge, imaginative think tank, and community environment. The installation—which will be activated by imagery from the natural world; plants, animal matter, and other organic artifacts; reading materials; and curated sounds—will offer opportunities for visitors to immerse themselves in a constructed, multi-faceted landscape and to explore the social implications of geographic space.
Wonder Room responds to the trope in the Western poetry canon of wonder or contemplation serving as a vehicle for personal or spiritual transformation within the natural landscape. However, drawing from the last four centuries of African-American nature poetry, the project circumvents the contemplative form attributed to the romantics and transcendentalists by instead using wonder as a means of thinking through the social and political concerns associated with landscape today—particularly those relating to environmental justice, displacement, and sustainability. Many of the sights, sounds, and imagery featured in the installation space come from Hamilton’s home regions within the rural American south. By infusing Recess’s Soho storefront with these materials, Wonder Room creates a deliberate play between the gallery’s urban surroundings and the project’s rural imagery. In this way, Wonder Room points to the impact that migration has on our relationships to landscape and the complexities of addressing rural space within an urban context.
Throughout the Session, the installation will act as the backdrop to a series of programs, including a film screening, song circle, book club discussion, and communal Sunday supper. Across these events, Wonder Room will accrue distinct resonances as it variously functions as the site of aesthetic experimentation, discursive exploration, and social exchanges.
Open to the public Tuesday-Saturday, 12-6pm; Thursday, 2-8pm
Wonder Room Front Porch Soundscape (arranged by Matthew D. Morrison)
About the Artist
Allison Janae Hamilton is a visual artist working in photography, video, sculpture, installation, and taxidermy. Born in Kentucky and raised in Florida, she now lives and works in New York City. She has exhibited at museums and institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (Washington, DC), The Jewish Museum (New York, NY), Fundación Botín (Santander, Spain), The Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, IL), and the Tacoma Art Museum (Tacoma, WA). Her artwork has appeared in the Brighton Photo Biennial and the Istanbul Design Biennial. Hamilton was a 2013-2014 Fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program, sponsored by the Whitney Museum of American Art. She has been awarded artist residencies at Recess (New York, NY), Fundación Botín (Santander, Spain), the School of Visual Arts (New York, NY) and the Rush Arts Foundation (New York, NY). Hamilton received her PhD in American Studies from New York University and her MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University. Her artwork has appeared in publications such as Transition Magazine, Women and Performance, Arte Al Limite, NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art, and Artforum.
This program is supported, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. This project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works, the VIA Art Fund, and the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc. In-kind support is provided by Material for the Arts.