Gia Hamilton brings over two decades of experience in the philanthropic sector as a residency director, community engagement organizer and consultant and senior executive in areas as diverse as arts, education, food security, healing practices domestically as well as internationally. Known for her visionary ability to identify and cultivate support systems, she has worked as a thought leader and change agent in a leadership capacity with numerous organizations with assets ranging from $2 million to $100 million.
Gia currently serves as the Joan Mitchell Center Director, an artist residency program of the Joan Mitchell Foundation in New Orleans; which acts as a place based, community centered incubator for visual artists, curators and arts professionals to connect with each other and the larger community. In addition, she is an independent curator where she most recently co-curated the Atlanta Biennial in 2016. Hamilton is also an organizer and founder of the Afrofuture Society, a connecting platform for creative of African descent. She serves on the board of Tulane University’s Newcomb Museum, Alliance for Artist Communities and New Orleans Video Access Center. Gia lives in New Orleans with her four sons and is finishing an ethnographic memoir centered on new practices in matriarchy.
What attracted you to work at the Joan Mitchell Center? How would you define its role in the greater art culture of New Orleans? Of the US?
I am a native of New Orleans, I spent almost 15 years in New York City working in the arts and education world, but in 2008 New Orleans called me back to contribute to the rebuilding and re visioning of a place I call home. New Orleans is an epicenter of culture in the US, creativity is way of life and is bubbling up from the streets here. The food, houses, people and every other aspect of life are colorful, centered around family and relationships, time and spending it with those you care about and creativity, daring to live you life most authentically. Culturally it is a complex place that fuses the African traditions with European and native traditions that are sometimes in alignment and blend well and other times showcase the complexity of those histories.
How has the diversity of your background and experiences shaped your view of art? Shaped your methods of curating?
I majored in cultural anthropology and minored in studio art and had a studio practice for a while. I worked a lot with found object, metal, wood and fabric telling narratives and trying to understand myself and my identity through the use of those materials. I began working with artists in the 90's and enjoyed the creative freedom to solve larger spatial issues from performance arts to curating visual arts exhibitions. I am fascinated with how and why people gather, public rituals - the ones we are complicit with and the ones we intentionally create. My curatorial practice and work center around the intersection of art, healing, food and education as the pillars of sustainable communities.
Can you tell us a little about the memoir you are writing?
I am writing an ethnographic memoir that started off as my doctoral work- I am interested in matriarchy and matriarchal spaces that women develop as a lifestyle and this is my attempt to use my birth experiences as rites of passage that support my growth in creating what I call a Contemporary Long House, a matriarchal space that centers around me as a woman and mother. It is funny, vulnerable and meant to support women who are challenged by societies labels that are not quite fitting. I also discuss raising 4 sons in this female centered space and the challenges and unexpected benefits that play out.
I have a modest but growing collection: Katrina Andry print, William Cordova drawing, Firelei baez pen and ink, Matthew Rosenbeck prints, Jeremy Tauriac photography, Andrea Dezdo cut outs, Shani Crow photographs, Heather Hart prints and am always on the look out for new artists to connect with and collect.
What will you be looking for in submissions?
I look for authenticity of the artists voice. There is something emotional that happens when I connect with work. When I am curious, stimulated, soothed or moved by work and usually it is that beautiful moment when you and the artist have a connection and it is usually not simply intellectual but a deeper more energetic connection. I am looking for passion in one's practice, technical excellence and authenticity.
You can follow what Gia is up to on Instagram or on her website.
10x10x10xTieton is made possible through a gift from Doug and Laurie Kanyer.