We had the good fortune of connecting with Allison Hunter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Allison, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I decided to devote myself full-time to my studio practice as a fine artist in 2020. For the past 8 years, I had been in an academic position but, while that was really interesting, it wasn’t my dream. I had done it for the stability. I realized that ironically, the stability was holding me back, keeping me from spending the time I wanted on what really mattered to me. This past year put a lot of things in perspective. That’s why they say it was a year of 20/20 vision!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I was raised in a conventional setting where I noticed women were treated differently. I had two older brothers and I saw how they were given opportunities that weren’t even considered for women. This gave me the drive to fight for what I wanted, no matter what I was told by the rest of the world. Unfortunately, I lost some of that fire after a traumatic divorce that really upended my belief in humanity for a while. This cost me some time, which I feel like I am going to make up for now, as a full-time artist. I was able to get through the tough times with the help of my friends and my beloved dog, who passed away several years ago. My art reflects the beauty of the world I see around me. At times, this beauty is in the small things like flowers from my #Covictory garden. In others, it’s my series of photographs where I stage scenes at night outdoors and photograph myself in costume. I also love to film the natural world, from the moody clouds that scrape across the city in the early morning to the creatures at the zoo. I’m working on a video installation for “Altamira,” a group exhibition at SITE Gallery and Sculpture Month Houston this fall that compares the resilience of the animal life in Madagascar to that of Houston. This entails filming lemurs at the Houston zoo. Spending time looking at these beautiful gentle creatures is a wonderful way to spend a morning. The most important thing is to keep making work, in the way that I want to. I’ve held myself back in the past but I am not going to settle for that anymore. I’m excited to see what the next chapter will bring. Many people inspire me but I would say most of all are artists, such as Lisa Congden and Sharen Louden who give back to the community through meaningful books on sustaining a creative practice.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love going to the Montrose area of Houston, especially Westheimer Street near Dunlavy. I’d probably go Common Bond or Empire Cafe then to the Space boutique for some shopping. Of course, I’d also recommend visiting the art exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Menil Collection, and the CAMH (Contemporary Arts Museum Houston) as well as the galleries Bill Arning Exhibitions, FotoRelevance, and galleryHomeland (yes, it’s spelled that way.) I’d take them to Rice University to see the Moody Center for the Arts, the James Turrell “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace and then to see my “Hive at Rice” video installation, which is on view nightly through May 2021. (“Hive at Rice” is viewable from the same ring road as the Turrell Skyspace on Rice campus.) I’m super excited about having my installation on campus since it’s the first time I’ve had an outdoor looping video projection visible for a full academic year. It appears nightly and you can stay in your car to see it. It’s perfect for pandemic art viewing.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’ve had wonderful support in Texas by collectors, curators, critics, and gallerists such as Jereann Chaney (collector), Mary Magsamen (curator), Catherine Anspon (arts writer), Molly Glentzer (arts writer), and Tammy Dowe (former gallerist), Bill Arning (gallerist), to name a few. These are only a few of the Houston art community that I can name at the moment. I am so fortunate to have had a wonderful cadre of supporters during the past eighteen years since I moved here from New York. Side note: I am relocating back to New York and will start my time there with a 6-month stint at a studio housed at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Studio Program.
Brandon Martin Allison Hunter