The Art Assassin 2

a nonfiction novel by Albert Wang, or a portrait of the artist as a young failure…


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Photograph of Katy Alonza Hamer. Courtesy of Facebook.
Katy Alonza Hamer: Drawing #6 (portrait of a woman), 2008, watercolor, colored pencil and graphite on paper, 22 inches by 30 inches. Courtesy of Katy Alonza Hamer.

After conducting Vincent Como‘s interview portrait, I found out that one of my friend’s favorite movies was Synecdoche, New York directed by Charlie Kaufman. Therefore, it was only natural to execute an interview portrait of the artist whose work was featured within the movie to increase the interconnnections among everyone. The poetry of  Katy Alonza Hamer‘s work which combines postmodern fantasy with questions about the viewer’s perception of life, whether it be realistic or conceptual.

I had a chance to catch up with Hamer after her trip to Ghana and it was a wonderful opportunity to be able to talk with her about her latest projects. Her psychological studies remain rather poignant and reflect on that emotional connection amongst humans through the power of collective memories for a whole society. The neo-expressionist figuration within her paintings and works on paper remain a strong statement about the typology of characters from an everyday life in the city.

If you have any questions about Hamer’s artwork, feel free to contact the artist at

And now here are THE ART ASSASSIN’s revealed details of the “assassination”:

qi peng: You had some of your wonderful paintings featured within an independent movie called Synecdoche, New York directed by the famed Charlie Kaufman. How did you get in touch with the movie director and get your work featured on set? How does it differ from being exhibited within a physical gallery? Has the film commission been more helpful for your art career?

Katy Alonza Hamer: Firstly, I’d like to say thank you qi for your interest in my work and for offering such  insightful questions. Having a few of my paintings in Synecdoche, New York was a great experience. A friend of mine, who was then Associate Director at the Dumbo Arts Center in Brooklyn, was approached by a set director looking for artwork to include within the schema of Synecdoche, New York. He graciously provided several artist names and website addresses for Charlie Kaufman to review and mine was amongst the list. I was told that Charlie picked the paintings he felt would best suit the heavy subject matter of the film, and after contract signing, etc. my work was featured in the movie! I have to admit one of the best feelings was seeing my name in the end credits amongst others that I admire (such as Philip Seymour Hoffman).

As for the idea of “gallery” I would say that having my paintings in a movie was quite different from the walls of an actual space. The cinema offered by Hollywood provides a virtual interstice and has a timeless quality. I know that my art will exist there for as long as the film is reproduced or shown.

qi peng: What was your experience at the art school at the Fashion Institute of Technology and New York University like? Do you have any memorable teachers or artists that had a strong impact on your painting or studio practice? What is your opinion about open studio visits and critique sessions for young artists? How do you think that art education can improve to help out artists who are choosing to make painting or other types of artwork for a full-time career?

Katy Alonza Hamer: I believe learning is partial to accessibility and self drive. The Fashion Institute of Technology provided me with a strong background in the human figure, painting and drawing. I chose to study Illustration versus Fine Art as an Undergraduate because I wanted to focus on my draftsmanship. Drawing was and is extremely important to me. I struggled with the disorganization of the school, but in the end I made it work in my favor. By disorganization, I mean that nothing was really given to us as students beyond the structure of the classroom. If you wanted something (scholarship, grants, etc.) you had to seek it out. I was an A student and often searched for more within the academic system, seeking intellectual challenges and opportunities. Thanks to my inquires and academic standing, I was awarded the Liberace Scholarship and had the chance to study abroad in Florence, Italy. I also worked in the Walt Disney World College Program and soon after graduating had the opportunity to work in London, England. Regarding studio practice, while at F.I.T. I moved from drawing, to painting with oil and then settling on acrylics. I enjoy the quick drying time of acrylics and pride myself on color mixing. By my junior year I knew that Illustration no longer interested me, but painting did. Working with the Herb Tauss, who has since passed away, I was encouraged to paint on larger-scale canvases paying attention to what I see, while others focused on shape, the subconscious and communication.

Now working on my M.A. thesis at New York University in Studio Art, I know my practice has evolved both stylistically and in a level of proficiency that goes beyond technique. For that I have to mention both Lyle Ashton Harris and Gerry Pryor, both who have played an extremely important role in my current artistic development.  I started my Masters program in Venice, Italy and most recently was the first Studio Art Grad student to study abroad in Accra, Ghana. Studying at NYU has allowed me to delve deeper into artistic theory,  focus on the idea of intention and purpose, and also forged a deeper relationship of trust between myself, the work, and the viewer.

Studio visits are an extremely valuable resource for all artists. When given the chance to have an artistic dialogue with someone who is also a practicing artist (no matter what his/her choice of media) a path is laid out and in having dialogue, not only can theoretical issues be brought up but technical issues can be reworked and discussed at will. I value all the feedback that I’ve gotten and continue to receive on my artwork.  As with any constructive criticism, the artist can choose to follow or rather store away the shared information for use at a future time/place.

qi peng: What is a typical day in the Katy Alonza Hamer studio like? What habits or methods would you consider to be your standard studio practice? Does your work get any ideas from your being located in the urban beauty of New York? What was your solo exhibition at The Rosenberg Gallery like and how did you prepare for it?

Katy Alonza Hamer: While I have consistent habits that emerge and painting methods that stay the same (listening to music while I paint, having a multitude of brushes, backing away from the painting with the tip of a paintbrush in my mouth to observe the work in progress), my art making process is heavily reliable on subject matter, place, and a mixture of current events both global and personal. Before making a painting I tend to do a lot of research. It has been intermixed within my life and sometimes I don’t even realize when I’m conducting research until it happens! This entails, travel to foreign lands, reading (both fiction, non-fiction, some theory), analyzing those around me, and constantly thinking of “what next”. Being a figurative painter (for lack of a better term), for me, means that a person or an element of humanity will always make its way into my art. Humanity can appear in the form of object, portrait or even mathematical formula.

Since mentioning foreign travel, I have to say that I’ve always felt the inspiration for my art has come more from my travels abroad (most recently Accra, Ghana) more so than the urban landscape of New York City. But I also realize that I am a New Yorker placed into those foreign lands and that I carry my experience with me.  I was raised on Long Island, and travel more in Europe, the U.K. and now Africa compared to the travels I have made within the United States.

For my first solo exhibition at New York University’s Rosenberg Gallery,  I focused loosely on the year 1983.  I used the platform of the gallery to put together an exhibit that not only incorporated painting and drawing but also photographs from my youth (from 1983-1989) which I drew on. Putting together the exhibition peaked my interest in curating and editing, and also helped me realize the potential of white walls and personal vision. I credit Hiroshi Sunairi for helping me hang the work and encouraging me to allow breathing space within the surface of the wall. The show was a critical step for me in my art-making process and has revitalized the way that I look at art and the spaces that contain it.

qi peng: Would you like to share your favorite music, movie, objects, artists, recent exhibitions, galleries, televisions shows, sports, or other cultural artifacts with fans of your work? What things do you enjoy about the things that you have chosen as your favorites? Are there any restaurants or hangouts around New York City that you wish to recommend us?

Katy Alonza Hamer: Being in New York, we are spoiled by the amount of art, both contemporary and classic that is at our fingertips. I tend to frequent both galleries and museums, most recently becoming a member at the New Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. I have to say that as an institution, and since its inception in the Lower East Side, I have been both intrigued and inspired by the exhibitions at the New Museum. I love how they are able to curate and consistently transform the gallery space with artwork by artists such as Elizabeth Peyton and Paul Chan. As you may know, I am an active blogger ( and use the blog platform not only to share my own art, but also create the opportunity to write about the art of others. This year I visited and wrote about several exhibitions at the New Museum, most recently, The Generational: Younger than Jesus. ( The museum space merges the gallery worlds of both Chelsea and the burgeoning Lower East Side, into a neatly stacked container accessible to both New Yorkers and tourists alike. Contemporary artists I tend to follow are (to name a few): Kara Walker, Lisa Yuskavage, John Currin, Jessica Stockholder, Bill Viola, Yinka Shonibare, Wangechi Mutu, Michael Borremons, Dana Schutz, Marina Abramovic, Mika Rottenberg and Marlene Dumas. I also am excited about the upcoming exhibition at the CRG Gallery (Feb. 2010) for Lyle Ashton Harris, who I am currently working with.

In regards to music, everyone who knows me is aware of the amount of concerts I’ve attended featuring the Counting Crows. The Crows are a band that I’ve followed since their first album August and Everything After, and the lyrics have grown and changed as I have throughout the years. In a way of taking a lead from bands like the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan, the Crows tend to lyrically paint a landscape that feels like home no matter where you may be in life, both literally and metaphorically.  As for movies and t.v. I can’t say that I have any particular favorites, although I’ve been “bitten” by the resurgence of vampires in the media and have taken note of both True Blood and Twilight.

qi peng: On another light note, do you have any favorite cuisine or dishes that you enjoy? Considering that food is essential for the artistic soul, what things do you enjoy about meals either prepared in a restaurant or home setting?

Katy Alonza Hamer: I am health conscious and while not necessarily a “foodie”, try to not eat food with lots of artificial preservatives or sugars.  I was a strict vegetarian for seven years and now eat and enjoy fish, but choose vegetarian dishes more frequently. I fill my diet with fresh salads, sandwiches,  occasional pasta dishes, rice and lots of veggies. I try not to load up on heavy carbs or sweets and find that when I take vitamins and eat healthily my energy level goes up as well as my ability to concentrate. I love going out for weekend brunch in the Lower East Side/East Village, and one of my favorite restaurants is Supper on 2nd Street, between Avenue A & B.

qi peng: Do you have anything else which you would like to share with your readers and fans of your beautiful paintings and upcoming exhibitions or projects here?

Katy Alonza Hamer: Thank you for following my work, and if you are just learning about me and my paintings I appreciate the interest that brought you to question six! The life and pursuits of an artist are never easy but almost always genuine in their unique conquest and attempt at understanding and/or dissecting the world in which we live.  The process of making art is evolutionary being both a challenge and a pleasure.  As I continue in my career as an artist, I will continue to evoke both  questions and various level’s of understanding for the viewer whether in painting, drawing or installation.

My thesis exhibition will be on view at NYU’s 80 Washington Square gallery, opening July 28th   and I will be presenting my first public installation  using both painting, drawing, and found objects. My current artwork utilizes the representation of violence, sexuality and the idea of belonging to engage the viewer in both a personal and impersonal way.

Stay tuned for future exhibitions and please check out both my blog and website for more information!

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at

Written by qi peng

August 12, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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