We chatted with Kara to learn more about her inspiration, the materials she uses and the Beyoncé connection:
AGO: You trained in architecture but became an artist. Can you tell us about that choice?
Kara: My dad was an architect with the spirit of an artist and my mom was a museum enthusiast. I grew up visiting museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, imagining all the possible connections between different disciplines and cultures. Architecture was never a career path for me. Instead, I thought of it as the ultimate Renaissance education.
AGO: What inspired the exhibition’s title?
Kara: Water in Two Colours reflects on opposing truths – the invaluable vs. the valueless for starters. I am exploring how to represent contradictions and where or how to ascribe value. What is worthless and what is vital? The exhibition space could be imagined as an alternative landscape where one can consider these contradictions.
AGO: Tell us the story behind the work Crown for Ina after Beyoncé.
Kara: It’s actually two pieces coming together – one crown I made years ago that Jay-Z chose for Beyoncé but never picked up and another crown in honour of my mom’s sister, whom I never met. I combined these two to create something new.
AGO: What inspired the artwork Mother tongue (whale)?
Kara: While making works for this exhibition, after a hard and discouraging day of hammering, I drove up the St. Lawrence River to be near the whales. When I recognized that what I was creating was the size and shape of a whale tongue, it made me want to understand what the whales were saying.
AGO: You often feature found objects in your art practice. Do you have a favourite place to source items?
Kara: I have lots of stories about sourcing old gold on 47th street in Manhattan. There is a fascinating sub-culture there. In Toronto, I met someone who collects scrap metal. He calls me whenever he gets something good.
AGO: What’s your favourite work at the AGO?
Kara: Near Walker Court, there’s a sculpture by Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok called Untitled (group of figures). At first, it looks like a rough-cut piece of soapstone, but if you look closer, you’ll see faces emerge almost indistinguishable from the stone base. This piece is everything and nothing at the same time. It’s perfect.
Kara Hamilton: Water in Two Colours is now on view on Level 4 of the Vivian & David Campbell Centre for Contemporary Art and is included in General Admission.
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