Earlier this year, Dell Marie Hamilton was named as one of the recipients of the ICA/Boston’s 2021 James and Audrey Foster Prize. While Hamilton has worked in a variety of roles over her many years at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, she is also a visual artist and curated the acclaimed “Nine Moments for Now” exhibition for the Cooper Gallery of African and African American Art in 2018.
For the exhibition, Hamilton created a room-sized multimedia installation and library in memory of art historian Susan A. Denker ’70, who was one of the first officers of the Radcliffe Union of Students, and taught feminist film history and African American art for two decades at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University.
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When Denker passed away in 2016, Hamilton inherited a substantial amount of Denker’s and her husband, Jerry E. Sobel’s personal items, including rare books by Jean Paul Sartre and Eugène Scribe, first editions by Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delaney and Silvia Plath, as well as fiction and poetry by Harlem Renaissance writers Charles W. Chesnutt, Countee Cullen and Arna Bontemps. Within the installation, Hamilton also created three new video works that respond to the paintings of Robert Colescott, Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock. Created during the ongoing crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, the installation wrestles with the question of what to do with someone’s most personal possessions and how to make sense of grief and its relationship to contemporary art.
The Foster Prize exhibition runs until Jan. 30, 2022 and was curated by Jeffrey De Blois. First established in 1999, the James and Audrey Foster Prize is key to the museum’s efforts to nurture and recognize artists working in and around Boston, showcase exceptional artwork, and support the city’s thriving arts scene.