Art Gallery of Hamilton reopens on February 12 with innovative new exhibitions

Saturday, 12 February 2022 11:00 – Sunday, 22 May 2022 16:00
Location: Art Gallery of Hamilton, 123 King Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Category: Art Exhibit
The Art Gallery of Hamilton is excited to reopen this Saturday, February 12 featuring the work of Michèle Pearson Clarke and Ingrid Mayrhofer. Each artist brings a new perspective on identity and the tensions of change. 

"We are honoured to be presenting Michèle's first major solo exhibition here at the AGH," says Shelley Falconer, AGH President & CEO. "Both exhibitions opening this weekend bring years of research to bear in innovative installation pieces featuring lens-based work."

Michèle Pearson Clarke: Muscle Memory explores the vulnerability of queer female masculinity in a video and photo-based exhibition on view until May 22. Ingrid Mayrhofer: After All That Was Solid Melts Into Air is a solo exhibition of recent works by Hamilton-based artist Ingrid Mayrhofer as she explores the image of a changing city, also on view until May 22. In addition, Nathan Eugene Carson: Black Carnival Audience is on view in our lower lobby exploring outward vulnerability with a diverse audience. Nathan's installation will move to Gallery Level 2 in March as part of our 2022 Artist in Residence presented by RBC.
Michèle Pearson Clarke, Quantum Choir, 2022, digital video stills, four-channel 4k video installation. Courtesy of the artist. 


Michèle Pearson Clarke: Muscle Memory 
On view February 12 – May 22 

Exploring the vulnerability of queer female masculinity, Michèle Pearson Clarke: Muscle Memory is the first major solo exhibition in a public gallery for Trinidad-born, Toronto-based artist Michèle Pearson Clarke. Working primarily in photography and video, Clarke examines black and queer experiences of longing and loss, while situating such grief as a site of possibility for social engagement and political connection. With Muscle Memory, Clarke presents her largest installation to date, comprising both a new four-channel video and sound work, Quantum Choir, 2022, and a selection of photographs from her ongoing series, The Animal Seems to Be Moving, 2018-present. 

Created for this exhibition, Quantum Choir reflects on the vulnerability of learning to sing as a way of exploring the legibility, precarity, and affinity of contemporary queer female masculinity. Set in a custom architectural structure in the center of a large gallery space, the video installation brings together four participants, including the artist, to work through the insecurity, worry, and shame of being a bad singer. Following weeks of voice lessons with a vocal coach, the participants collaboratively construct a performance for the camera, progressing from initial vocal warm-ups right through to singing the same pop song. As in previous works, Clarke here uses performative gestures and repetition across the four screens to construct a video choir that harnesses queer kinship and intimacy to navigate a complex mix of privilege, oppression, power, and invisibility. 

In The Animal Seems to Be Moving, Clarke turns to self-portraiture for the first time to map a shift in her masculine appearance, one marked by both loss and fear. Long perceived to be younger than her age, with this ongoing body of work, she considers the experience of aging out of being read as a young black boy and aging into being read as a middle-aged black man. Given the threat that black masculinity poses to many, the series is at once mourning of her own queer boyhood as well as grappling with the absurdity of having to face increased hostility because of growing older. Deploying performance and humour, these self-portraits allow us to see Clarke looking at herself as she imagines something closer to the truth of what it means to age otherwise in her black, queer masculine body. 

Michèle Pearson Clarke is a visual artist, writer, and educator who works in photography, film, video, and installation. Born in Trinidad (1973), and based in Toronto, Clarke holds an MSW from the University of Toronto, and in 2015 she received her MFA in Documentary Media Studies from Ryerson University. Clarke has exhibited both nationally and internationally, including in Chicago, Lagos, Los Angeles, and Montréal, and she is the current Photo Laureate for the City of Toronto (2019-2022). 

Ingrid Mayrhofer, Main at Kenilworth, digital collage, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

Ingrid Mayrhofer: After All That Was Solid Melts Into Air  
On view February 12 – May 22


Ingrid Mayrhofer: After All That Was Solid Melts Into Air is a solo exhibition of recent works by Hamilton-based artist Ingrid Mayrhofer as she explores the image of a changing city. Video collages and digital photomontages document the altered streetscape during the process of demolition along King Street East in preparation for the City’s planned Light Rail Transit (LRT). 

After photographing many different stages of change – from active businesses and housing, to boarded-up buildings and construction fencing, and newly revealed historical details – the artist created absurdist reality composites by incorporating the candy-coloured and tagged hoarding. 

Her earlier series of collagraphs offer aerial views of the industrial sector and interpretations of the steelmaking process together with façades of workers’ homes. The inclusion of cyanotypes from the AGH collection that document steel making and the TH&B railway construction situates Mayrhofer’s camera angle as she rambles along with the tensions of progress. 

Installation view of Nathan Eugene Carson, Black Carnival Audience, 2015-ongoing, mixed media, acrylic on found paper. Photo by Robert McNair


Nathan Eugene Carson: Black Carnival Audience
On view February 12 – March 2023

Nathan Eugene Carson remembers visiting the Carnival as a kid, at Hamilton’s Centre Mall on Barton Street. His father would bring him regularly in the 1980s and he was enthralled by the spectacle. He was curious about the uniqueness of those who populated the carnival and became aware of how the ‘carnies’ were perceived and understood through their differences and otherness.

Carson was raised in a highly supportive family—he was told that human bodies are vessels; bodies present in many ways and it’s what’s inside that matters. Now in his 40s, Carson visualizes difference in his drawings, acknowledging that how people present has an impact on how they are seen and understood in the world.

This grouping of faces is the audience at Carson’s imaginary carnival. As they turn to face us, a power dynamic shifts. Instead of the audience looking inward toward the Carnival, they turn to look out, to the world, and in this case, to those who look at them. Their collective gaze is powerful, and their vulnerability is turned outward and open for discussion. This audience is not consuming a spectacle—rather they are wondrous, curious, and interested in engaging with us, in an open-ended conversation.

Carson will be our 2022 RBC Artist in Residence. Black Carnival Audience kicks off that project, and these works will move into the David Braley and Nancy Gordon sculpture atrium as part of his larger residency exhibition, from March 2022 to March 2023.

2022 Artist in Residence Presented by: 


Visitors to the Gallery must provide proof of vaccination or exemption as an enhanced vaccine certificate with an official QR code plus personal identification. This may be done using a digital or paper copy. Visitors 11 years and younger must be accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult.