Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

EJ Hill



EJ Hill: participates in Made in LA, 2018, The Hammer Los Angeles

Pilar, 2017 (detail)






EJ Hill is an artist whose practice incorporates painting, writing, installation, and performance as a way to elevate bodies and amplify voices that have long been rendered invisible and inaudible by oppressive social structures. This multifaceted approach often stems from an endurance-based performance practice in which Hill pushes his physical and mental limits as a way to expand the conditions, parameters, and possibilities that determine a body.

Artist Statement
I am an artist committed to authoring objects, images, and experiences which elevate bodies and amplify voices that have long been rendered invisible and inaudible by oppressive social structures. Rooted in an endurance-based performance practice, my work focuses largely on challenging the social aspects and systems that construct a body. I am interested in how bodies are formed, understood, and valued within different social and cultural contexts, but more specifically, how they redefine the parameters that govern which bodies are allowed to exist freely.
Initially, performance seemed the most natural and direct way of addressing ideas pertaining to the body; however, over the years I have developed my practice to include writing, painting, sculpture, and installation. This multi-faceted methodology has provided me new ways of articulating propositions for being, while still maintaining a foundation of critique of oppressive social structures.
At its core, my current artistic output is steeped in a desire to move beyond representations of pain, violence, and struggle—aspects central to the experiences of subjugated communities, undoubtedly—and closer to more rounded, complex representations which include the aforementioned, but also allows room for excellence, beauty, and bliss.(text Foundation for Contemporary Art)
December 2017


EJHillTheNecessaryReconditioning of the HighlyDeserving1



Commonwealth and Council presents The Necessary Reconditioning of the Highly Deserving, an exhibition of new work by EJ Hill. The imagery of this exhibition— mountains, clouds, ascensions—insists on the importance of representations of marginalized bodies in places of elevation. We find here a telling of the story of Blackness with light and affirmation; not as a denial of the pain of existence, but as an approach for addressing and healing it. A counterpoint to the traumatizing images that have become so ubiquitous in our current news cycle, it is a “queering” of this image. To productively and joyously reframe this paradigm is itself a radical act.

All bodies move through the world; not all bodies move in the same way. What you hold in your body is not what I hold in my body. There is a theory of intergenerational trauma that purports that the violence inflicted on ancestors can alter the DNA of their progeny. There are things written into our skin, forced into the blood in our veins, scratched into our cells. In a multifaceted practice, Hill explores the conditions of his reality, of his moving through the world. Here, art is a gesture of self-affirmation and an assumption of presence in spaces where that physicality may not be recognized or welcomed. It is a visual gesture to write new ways of being; the transference and preservation of an experience of being lifted to heights, of being firmly rooted.

In this installation featuring sculptures and painting, the emotionally demanding tenor of Hill’s performance practice retains a presence, quietly but with the same potency. There is a catharsis, an acceptance of the emotional highs and lows of a life lived. Hill offers the breadth of an experience, one that can include trauma and pain, as well as moments of breathtaking exaltation and sublimation, rootedness and establishment. We look up for affirmations. We swing up into the air to find glimpses of ourselves. We find structures at last in place that allow us to ascend. The poetic justice of the human experience is what is at stake here. Urgency and violence, yes, but triumphs and tenderness too.(text website)
—Ana Iwataki