to Ed Hamilton
Center exhibit examines
sculptors life through monuments
Helen E. McKinney
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (December 2006) When one looks
at an Ed Hamilton sculpture, he may feel as if he is face-to-face with
an historical figure who has suddenly sprung to life. His creations
mimic reality so closely that one could almost feel Booker T. Washington
or Joe Louis breath as you stare at their bronze features.
Hamilton is the subject of an exhibit on display at the Carnegie Center
for Art and
Hamilton works on
the Booker T. Washington sculpture in Virginia.
Many samples of his work
can be seen through
December at the Carnegie Center in New Albany, Ind.
History, 201 E. Spring St. in New Albany, Ind. The Carnegie
Center for Art and History is a department of the New Albany-Floyd County
On display until Dec. 30, Ed Hamilton: The Making of a Man and
a Monument explores his evolution as an artist.
It speaks to the making of my monuments over the last 30 years,
said Hamilton in a late November telephone interview. The exhibit explains
the process of becoming an artist by showing you how I do these
things. Hamilton, 59, sees it as a sort of mini-retrospect on
Beginning with his graduation from Shawnee High School in 1965, it progresses
to his graduation from Louisville Art Center School in 1969, the Louisville
Art Workshop from 1969 to 1973, and attendance at the University of
Louisville and Spalding College, said center director Laura Wilkins.
Hamiltons acquaintance with the late Louisville sculpture Barney
Bright in 1973 really opened the door of sculpting for him,
The exhibit examines five different monuments created by Hamilton, the
most famous being the Civil War-themed Spirit of Freedom.
This monument was dedicated in 1998 in Washington, D.C., in honor of
the African American troops who fought in the Civil War and their families.
Dr. Dario Covi, professor emeritus of the Allen R. Hite Art Institute
of the University of Louisville, became involved as a guest curator
for this exhibit.
The exhibit displays different items from five monuments Hamilton created
between 1982 and 2003, said Wilkins. In addition to Spirit of Freedom,
other sculptures included are the Booker T. Washington Memorial in Virginia,
the Joe Louis Memorial in Detroit, The Armistat Memorial in Connecticut,
and the York Memorial in Louisville. York was the slave who accompanied
famed explorers Lewis and Clark on their westward journey.
Each section of the exhibit contains panels with photographs depicting
Hamiltons creation of the monument. His autobiography, The
Birth of an Artist, was used quite extensively for the exhibit,
York Memorial is
dedicated to the slave
who accompanied Lewis
and Clark on their
After the Spirit of Freedom dedication, Hamilton
decided to write a coffee table book about the creation of the monument.
But the result was an autobiography because readers wanted to know more
about him and who he really was.
Hamilton said he grew up in the heart of the downtown Louisville
district. Everything around him was physical, which may account
for his fascination with sculpting, a 3-dimensional artform.
I love the physicality of it all, said Hamilton about sculpting.
While a painter can create a form or 2-dimensional plane, the viewer
cannot actually touch it like he can a sculpture.
Hamilton was approached by his friend, James Holmberg, Curator of Special
Collections for The Filson Club in Louisville, to sculpt York, William
Clarks slave. To research York, who was a vital part of the Lewis
and Clark Expedition of 1803 to 1805, Holmberg gave him a copy of In
Search of York: The Slave Who Went to the Pacific with Lewis and Clark
by Robert Betts.
I devoured it to get an idea of what this man was all about,
For more information on the exhibit, visit:
Back to December 2006