Awash in Your Shelter, 2019

Artist made paper, cotton: thrift store jeans and apple trays from Southside Produce, abaca, metal, thread

Dimensions: 240" x 46" x 21"

Images courtesy of the artist

Leah Hamel

Hoover, Alabama

Awash in Your Shelter derives its shape from the rock formations surrounding a watering hole in Foster Falls, TN morphing into paper roofing shingles held together with thread. Inspired by the comfort and sense of shelter that can be found both in nature and in the places we call home, this piece takes its shape as part wave, part rock, and part roof. The materials I use have all had a life prior to this structure; the reuse of these materials along with the ephemerality of this artwork aligns with the cycle of regeneration and re-becoming, which we find in life both metaphorically and physically.

I am often contemplating ideas of belonging and the connection between our psychological terrains, outer physical landscapes, and how we perceive our experiences. I encourage my audience to consider these motifs while viewing the intricacies of Awash in Your Shelter.

My sculptural work is a catalog of my observational surroundings; rooted in my interest in the environment, and paralleled with our inner emotional landscape, our relationships with others, and the spaces in which we find ourselves inhabiting. The objects I create evoke quiet vulnerability and physicality through biomorphic forms or recognizable imagery appearing in a fantastical format. I urge viewers to contemplate ideas of belonging and the connection between our psychological terrain, outer physical landscapes, and how we perceive our experiences. Use of materials like plastic and ceramics, intermingled with metal and natural fibers, is a way to examine and physically express the visible ephemerality and perception of permanence found both in nature and in our personal connections with people and places.

Paper, a dominant material in my practice and made from local plant fibers or collected recycled material, represents the fleeting ephemeral aspects of life both physical and metaphorical. It has the ability to be transformed time and time again, taking on new life through each form it becomes. I am also interested in paper as a source to record stories and ideas, which reflects our fading memories and the attempt to immortalize experience through written language.

Cyclical processes are always apparent in my observations of the world- in architecture, in nature, and also existing in who we are as humans individually and through relationships with others and our surroundings.