Morgan Joseph Hamilton

b. 1988
Transmedia edu-curator, scholar, artist
Pisces ✸, Capricorn ☽, Capricorn ↑

On Education

I am a post-constructivist educator. That is, I embrace constructivist epistemology (that our personal experiences and knowledge inform and construct our understanding) but critique its shortcomings, that there is certain knowledge we do not inherit and therefor must learn in the traditional sense. Villeneuve (2015) exemplifies post-constructivism in the art museum with her Supported Interpretation model. The edu-curator facilitates interest in learning, the visitor adapts her experience to make meaning. However, not every visitor has an innate understanding of art and its history, thus the edu-curator must provide some context in the form of scaffolded information for the visitor. The apochryphal sentiment attributed to Plutarch and Freire, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire", is a compelling statement that captures the phenomenon of learning. Educators should give kindling to the learner's spark of interest or understanding, and when the flame catches, the teacher steps aside so the learner can find the fuel.

I focus on critical andragogy in the museum educational experience because adults are just as inquisitive, curious, and inspiring as children. Adult programming in the art museum must go beyond happy hours and workshops, it should equip adult learners with different lenses through which they see art, the world, and their place in it. Though Universities and museums should inspire a feeling of calm and empowerment, tension should not be sacrificed for comfort. Tension is the thing that needs resolve, resolve comes through inquiry and action, communication and strategy, dialogue and reflection. If our classrooms and museums are neutral, they are neutered, and ineffectual in addressing our societies' issues. Post-constructivism aims tension like a fiery beacon for learners to pursue and continue pursuing, never finding an end, only more fuel.

On Curation

Museums art not neutral. They have never been, they will never be, they can never be. This idea is epitomized and amplified by the Museums Are Not Neutral movement, it challenges the oft-too-accepted notion that museums do not need to speak on political and contemporaneous issues because they exit outside of it. That is a fallacy, a fantasy. Museums have been collecting, preserving, appropriating, and interpreting objects and artworks for centuries, each of these acts is a political statement. VanMensch (1990) says that museums should collect, preserve, educate, exhibit, and study artworks as a means of communication. Communication is two-way, therefore it is as much the role of the visitor to involve herself as it is the edu-curator. Museums have evolved through many iterations of curiosity cabinets that showcase a specific (often Western, often Male) worldview. That worldview is narrow, misleading, and shortsighted. Museums are coming into a new era of curtain-drawing and transparent operational processes. When backroom deals, diversity quotas, funding contingencies, Board member favors, and/or White-centric language clogs, (or worse, redirects) the capillary flow of cultural experience, the museum is perpetuating its ill-fated past and repeating the harm they have done to artistic and democratic progression.

When planning an exhibition, I bring that mentality with me into every step of the process. I follow artists who actively engage with ideas, concepts, materials, approaches, and conversations that help us define what it is to exist in community and society. I collaborate with artists who use materials as a critique of their history or origin. I enjoy works that subvert expectation and evoke a gut laugh or punch-you-in-the-gut groan. I want to be challenged in the artspace of a museum, and I believe you do too. If artwork is beautiful, it should bite in other ways, if it is ugly, it should call on the beauty in its truths. The pain/pleasure, expectation/surprise, wonder/horror dichotomies define the museum experience, I believe they define the aesthetic experience.

On Art Praxis

I have to meet someone in their reality and, with them, walk along it to convince them it's just a story they were told and are retelling, while remembering not to fall for my own.

Some artists make state-of-the-art; I make Art of the State. My work is public, it is federal, it is philosophical, it is procedural (procedure as a distortion of the practicality of an institution). Though I make individual performances, characters, videos, websites, publications, meetings, and installations, my transmedia theory unites them as part and parcel of an expanding virtual/hyper/alternate reality that I am in the process of creating. I design facsimiles of everyday experiences: websites, articles, fashion, news, flags, religions, systems, departments, and especially, people. I follow a parallel narrative of an American experience, of a personal experience. I am not bound by a medium but liberated by all mediums; the story comes first and I build the world with whatever tool is necessary. Each character, each story is one chard of my broken self, showing you your own reflection. Like Kierkegaard, I may speak under many names, but they are merely lenses to help you (and myself) see the world in as many dimensions as possible.