Kara Hamilton: We the People
September 29, 2020–November 30, 2020
Salon 94 and Salon 94 Design announce “We the People,” a project featuring handmade brass election pins and other accessories by Kara Hamilton with all proceeds to FairVote and Earthjustice Action.
Hamilton created both unique and editioned pins using the lost-wax process whereby a wax model is created and then cast in a metal alloy. While the editioned pieces use a mold to make multiple wax models, the unique works are only cast once.
For a collaborative poster campaign, Hamilton asked artist and friend Katy Grannan, known for her empowered portraits, to meet in Newburgh, New York, the site of George Washington’s headquarters during the final year of the Revolutionary War. There, they staged photographs of what Hamilton describes as “real people wearing flashy, charged pins.” The artists friendship, dialogue, and collaboration add further layers and weight to their message.
Hamilton’s solid brass pins range from the clear and undeniable titled: Crying Eagle or Melting Liberty, to the more opaque and personal titles: WeaponEyes or Bleeding Heart Love. The pins have in common a strong, willful, and durable presence. As Hamilton notes, these pins “can act as both armour and amulet, offering protection while admitting vulnerability.”
Hamilton refers to her work as “critical decoration.” In repurposing salvaged metals into jewelry and sculpture, Hamilton is invested in critiquing received notions of beauty and where value lies in fine art and design. For this project, Hamilton takes the election pin, characteristically flimsy, itinerant, and mass produced, and has fashioned weighty, enduring objects that correspond with the hefty choices each of us face in November. In “We the People,” Hamilton and Grannan issue a call to reclaim and preserve our democracy. They dare us to wear these objects and speak up for our country, our collective values, without apology.