Artist Interview: Hunter Amos

Artist Interview: Hunter Amos

November 2023

Interview Written and Conducted by Java Jones

Now immersed in the cityscape and working out of his Bowery studio, Hunter Amos has expanded his practice from portraiture into abstract figuration. Infusing each piece with a revitalized significance through dynamic compositions, intricate abstractions, and nuanced juxtapositions of form, his practice is an exploration of selfhood and inner expression. The integration of diverse materials, such as cement and sand, with traditional painting mediums, such as oil and acrylic, has been a defining aspect of his oeuvre, yielding works that are both visually stimulating and texturally immersive.

Curatorial Fellow, Java Jones, connected with Hunter on the integration of architecture into his work, his relationship to his environment and practice, the labor that comes with creating, and more. 

Describe the relationship between your practice and architecture. What processes (i.e.

technical, visual, and/or spiritual) have emerged as a result?

I think what lies here is an interesting dynamic between the artist and their immediate surroundings and the ways in which we function amongst these constructions. The idea of architecture and art bleeds into my practice in a very organic way as most of my work is autobiographical with a specific focus on these forms, or geometric shapes, juxtaposed within the abstracted figure. To me, the construction of any kind of figure is a considered formation of components such as line, color, and form.

Is your process a method of construction, deconstruction or reconstruction? Explain.

I’d say reconstruction. It’s reinterpreting the methods of combining composition and material through depictions that are personal to me. It’s reflexive, analyzing the personal motives and aspirations. Seeing what I would like to see come into being while also allowing something unknown to appear and take form.

What is your approach to function and form?

It’s that form always has to function and it should be simultaneous. Each component should compliment another. My work functions in a humanly sympathetic way through how my figures interact with the mediums being used such as cement, oil, [and] shaped canvas. They aren't separate things when they work together, this is how I see my approach to function to form. But in an opposite way to create the dynamism we see in life in my works about human experience and expression.

How are you deciding the physical properties (i.e. material, texture, weight, colour, porosity, sound, energy, etc.) of an artwork? What is most important? What is least important?

Usually I start with an ambiguous composition. Then I attempt to draw out the properties that can be enhanced or merged into something stronger such as abstracting a foreground into a background or overlaying the work with new forms.

Working with concrete came from my newfound interaction with the material of my surroundings in this “concrete jungle”. Considering cement as the sole material holding the city together. As if it is taking advantage of the material so readily available to form the buildings

and grounds we walk upon. Why not explore how to juxtapose the function, taking something crude and rough and turning it into something “fine”. To nearly eliminate the use of the material by adapting it into an artwork and leaving only an emotional resonance rather than an industrial function.

How does the labour of building affect your practice? How do you navigate care?

I think of how things are built with sympathy, forming a resonance. There’s a difference in the mindset of one building a church to one building a prison and that's felt. A motive behind the materialisation of any construction is always evident in the final piece. As though the thought behind the artist's hand carries through to the viewer's eye.

There is a subconscious emotional objective in my practice just as there is one when constructing a building : the emotional objective drastically changes in the process of building different spaces. It’s the subconscious understanding of forming something that you know

people will interact with in a specific way.

In what ways does your identity/-ies shape your practice’s engagement with architecture

and the built environment?

I grew up surrounded by nature and moved to NYC from a farm, so the effect of the built environment was little, rather I have focused on the function of natural forms and manipulating and exploring those elements has always been an inspiration in my practice. It’s a fascination with forms that organically came into being. It’s understanding the true essence of something to be able to morph it and use it for something greater.

I am an amalgamation of the reality of my experiences and their interaction with what I think I know. The only understanding comes from the pursuit of trying to define and understand yourself, so just to materialise my understanding is my identity. And it continues to be a different piece in a different environment as I’ll change with that environment.

Can you share your favorite and/or least favorite architectural form or space—past or

present—as well as what elements resonate with you?

Any modern structures that incorporate the landscape in which they’re built, even if it’s intentionally against the grain. And when there’s no consideration for this it’s just wrong.

What roles do art play in the shaping of “safe spaces”? Do you believe in safe spaces? Why or why not?

Artists step into less safe spaces and this inherently creates a more broad scope of what is considered ‘safe”, as it allows more people to resonate with a subjective creation that exists at all. It’s a tough question as everyone has a different definition of a safe space and when you are showing your work, in whatever capacity, there will always be an inherent lack of safety as this is a vulnerable act.

How will art impact the future of architecture and the built environment?

Any kind of pursuit into a new school of thought or technique will correlate in all mediums. It’s the thought that triggers such excitement to construct or deconstruct anything.

If your art possessed an architectural superpower, what would it be and why?

Just for someone to feel as though they already know what it is but they’re not sure why.

Dive deeper into Hunter’s artistic process in our Studio Tour and follow his journey on Instagram

Hunter Amos Intro Graphic: Strada Curatorial Fellow, Java Jones, connects with artist, Hunter Amos. Hunter in his Bowery studio.
Chord of Valor: Chord of Valor, 2023. Oil on canvas. Photo by Wei & Xi Photography.
Chord of Valor (Close Up): Close up of Chord of Valor. Photo by Wei & Xi Photography.
Self Depiction NY21: Self Depiction NY21, 2023. Oil and concrete on shaped canvas. Photo by Wei & Xi Photography.
Self Depiction NY 21 (Close Up): Close up of Self-Depiction NY21. Photo by Wei & Xi Photography.
O’Keefe: O’Keefe, 2020. Acrylic on canvas.

Artist Interview: Hunter Amos

November 2023

Interview Written and Conducted by Java Jones

Hunter Amos Intro Graphic: Strada Curatorial Fellow, Java Jones, connects with artist, Hunter Amos. Hunter in his Bowery studio.

Now immersed in the cityscape and working out of his Bowery studio, Hunter Amos has expanded his practice from portraiture into abstract figuration. Infusing each piece with a revitalized significance through dynamic compositions, intricate abstractions, and nuanced juxtapositions of form, his practice is an exploration of selfhood and inner expression. The integration of diverse materials, such as cement and sand, with traditional painting mediums, such as oil and acrylic, has been a defining aspect of his oeuvre, yielding works that are both visually stimulating and texturally immersive.

Curatorial Fellow, Java Jones, connected with Hunter on the integration of architecture into his work, his relationship to his environment and practice, the labor that comes with creating, and more. 

Describe the relationship between your practice and architecture. What processes (i.e.

technical, visual, and/or spiritual) have emerged as a result?

I think what lies here is an interesting dynamic between the artist and their immediate surroundings and the ways in which we function amongst these constructions. The idea of architecture and art bleeds into my practice in a very organic way as most of my work is autobiographical with a specific focus on these forms, or geometric shapes, juxtaposed within the abstracted figure. To me, the construction of any kind of figure is a considered formation of components such as line, color, and form.

Is your process a method of construction, deconstruction or reconstruction? Explain.

I’d say reconstruction. It’s reinterpreting the methods of combining composition and material through depictions that are personal to me. It’s reflexive, analyzing the personal motives and aspirations. Seeing what I would like to see come into being while also allowing something unknown to appear and take form.

What is your approach to function and form?

It’s that form always has to function and it should be simultaneous. Each component should compliment another. My work functions in a humanly sympathetic way through how my figures interact with the mediums being used such as cement, oil, [and] shaped canvas. They aren't separate things when they work together, this is how I see my approach to function to form. But in an opposite way to create the dynamism we see in life in my works about human experience and expression.

Chord of Valor: Chord of Valor, 2023. Oil on canvas. Photo by Wei & Xi Photography.

How are you deciding the physical properties (i.e. material, texture, weight, colour, porosity, sound, energy, etc.) of an artwork? What is most important? What is least important?

Usually I start with an ambiguous composition. Then I attempt to draw out the properties that can be enhanced or merged into something stronger such as abstracting a foreground into a background or overlaying the work with new forms.

Working with concrete came from my newfound interaction with the material of my surroundings in this “concrete jungle”. Considering cement as the sole material holding the city together. As if it is taking advantage of the material so readily available to form the buildings

and grounds we walk upon. Why not explore how to juxtapose the function, taking something crude and rough and turning it into something “fine”. To nearly eliminate the use of the material by adapting it into an artwork and leaving only an emotional resonance rather than an industrial function.

Chord of Valor (Close Up): Close up of Chord of Valor. Photo by Wei & Xi Photography.

How does the labour of building affect your practice? How do you navigate care?

I think of how things are built with sympathy, forming a resonance. There’s a difference in the mindset of one building a church to one building a prison and that's felt. A motive behind the materialisation of any construction is always evident in the final piece. As though the thought behind the artist's hand carries through to the viewer's eye.

There is a subconscious emotional objective in my practice just as there is one when constructing a building : the emotional objective drastically changes in the process of building different spaces. It’s the subconscious understanding of forming something that you know

people will interact with in a specific way.

Self Depiction NY21: Self Depiction NY21, 2023. Oil and concrete on shaped canvas. Photo by Wei & Xi Photography.

In what ways does your identity/-ies shape your practice’s engagement with architecture

and the built environment?

I grew up surrounded by nature and moved to NYC from a farm, so the effect of the built environment was little, rather I have focused on the function of natural forms and manipulating and exploring those elements has always been an inspiration in my practice. It’s a fascination with forms that organically came into being. It’s understanding the true essence of something to be able to morph it and use it for something greater.

Self Depiction NY 21 (Close Up): Close up of Self-Depiction NY21. Photo by Wei & Xi Photography.

I am an amalgamation of the reality of my experiences and their interaction with what I think I know. The only understanding comes from the pursuit of trying to define and understand yourself, so just to materialise my understanding is my identity. And it continues to be a different piece in a different environment as I’ll change with that environment.

Can you share your favorite and/or least favorite architectural form or space—past or

present—as well as what elements resonate with you?

Any modern structures that incorporate the landscape in which they’re built, even if it’s intentionally against the grain. And when there’s no consideration for this it’s just wrong.

What roles do art play in the shaping of “safe spaces”? Do you believe in safe spaces? Why or why not?

Artists step into less safe spaces and this inherently creates a more broad scope of what is considered ‘safe”, as it allows more people to resonate with a subjective creation that exists at all. It’s a tough question as everyone has a different definition of a safe space and when you are showing your work, in whatever capacity, there will always be an inherent lack of safety as this is a vulnerable act.

O’Keefe: O’Keefe, 2020. Acrylic on canvas. 

How will art impact the future of architecture and the built environment?

Any kind of pursuit into a new school of thought or technique will correlate in all mediums. It’s the thought that triggers such excitement to construct or deconstruct anything.

If your art possessed an architectural superpower, what would it be and why?

Just for someone to feel as though they already know what it is but they’re not sure why.

Dive deeper into Hunter’s artistic process in our Studio Tour and follow his journey on Instagram