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Harmony Hammond | Canal St station on the N train

What makes a woman born in Illinois on this day in 1944, educated in Minnesota and resident of New Mexico since 1984 eligible for a City of Women subway stop designation? I couldn’t wait to get up this morning to tell you!

Hammond was a trailblazer of the 1970s feminist art movement in New York, an experience which served as launching pad for a fifty year career as artist, feminist, activist, curator, academic and scholar.

1970s New York also proved personally liberating. “I was an artist before I was a lesbian. I came out through my art and the feminist movement.”

She was co-founder of A.I.R., the first women’s cooperative art gallery in New York. “The group” got together to present their work [always called “work” rather than art], understand what it meant [consciousness raising] and critique one another. At the time, it was hugely radical because it was a kind of stepping outside the masculine painting sites where women as makers or subjects were not really welcome. And they said we don’t care. “We did as much damage as we could.” Air Gallery is still going strong.

The Group began looking back to gendered creative traditions that had been erased or ignored or devalued. Hammond started working with old rags, cast-offs, remnants, worn out bedding. She describes the process: I’d dip strips of fabric into acrylic paint and throw them down on the floor. Then began to tie them, knot them, stitch them together, maybe paint on them some more and began to build forms out of these fragments of fabric that came from the women in my life.”

She literally put the women in her life in the work.

It was an additive process. There was power, a presence in the accumulation of things. “It’s intentional that the seams show, that we see things are pieced together. I don’t like digital seamlessness. Piecing, patching, fraying, layering, suturing are loaded with meaning.”

Hammond has had more than 30 solo exhibitions but her first retrospective wasn’t held until last year at The Aldrich.

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