Ampersand Magazine Sept/Oct 2013

Page 38



sk a group of individuals what they believe is contemporary art, and you’ll probably receive answers with varying degrees of cynicism, and likely something encompassing, ‘I could do that.’ But have you? Lying behind a great deal of contemporary art is an unwavering, powerful idea, possibly more complex than the work’s execution, but unique and compelling in its own right. “For me, it has to do with encountering new ideas, whether it be on the web or in a painting, any kind of media,” said Hope Hilton, the new art director of Athens Institute for Contemporary Art (more affectionately known as ATHICA). “I think the best contemporary art is relevant to what’s happening in the world and how it filters through somebody’s mind, and how they communicate with us. It’s everything.” Though Hope wears many artistic hats now – writer, designer, art educator and curator – her path to the industry wasn’t always clear. As family legend has it, Hilton was drawing


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in perspective at age 3, and her parents encouraged her artistic endeavors for a while, then discouraged them strongly. Prior to taking her first college art class, she had been teaching herself. “I would get books. I traced lots of stuff out of magazines.” In her first art class at Berry College, the teacher crumpled up a paper bag, un-crumpled it, put it on the podium and commanded the class to draw. “I had never really been challenged to draw something like that. I did it, and it was good. I still have it; I was so proud of it. I realized then I needed to follow my own intuition and not listen to my parents anymore,” Hilton explains. She applied to Atlanta College of Art, and didn’t tell her parents until she started taking classes there. Though they were not happy, and Hilton wished for their support at the time she realizes she may not have “fought so hard” for her art education if they hadn’t cut her off completely. In college, Hilton got involved with an art collective – she and some friends rented a space, and started filling it up. “That’s how I got interested in curating and making things

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