Art Beat: Art In Light

Apr 2, 2020

"Tree Fort" by Pamela Hadley (2019)
Credit Copyright Pamela Hadley

When Pamela Hadley walks into a dark room, she sees things. A sliver of light. The curve of a shadow.


The Chicago resident is a future artist at the Prairie Ronde Artist Residency in Vicksburg. It brings artists inside a now-empty paper mill. Hadley says she’ll bring light into the darkness there, too.

“I work with projected light, and it comes from a digital source as opposed to a regular light bulb,” Hadley says. “The imagery being projected is extremely minimal, abstract animation technically. It’s a very simple shape, like a line or a geometric shape, just moving very, very slowly across an object or space. The point is to look at the quality of the light and how it reveals the material qualities of the space or object in a reciprocal way, so that we see things we haven’t seen before.”

"(Re)volution" by Pamela Hadley (2018)
Credit Copyright Pamela Hadley

Hadley says that she goes into her studio and often feels bored or frustrated as she works. But it’s often in those moments that discovery happens and art unfolds.

“I’m not just going in and performing the action that I already knew I was going to do,” she says. “I have to have enough time to get bored or frustrated, because otherwise, how is my brain going to solve any problems if I’m only doing what I expected to do? There have to be times that I don’t know what I’m doing or else nothing new can come from it.”

Hadley says what intrigues her about looking at objects or space in changing light is that it can alter perception and reveal the hidden, challenging the eye and mind to see what they were not able to before.

Although the Prairie Ronde Artist Residency has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, Hadley hopes to travel to Vicksburg in the fall to explore the former paper mill, to spend time there, play with light, and make discoveries. The residency usually results in a gallery show at its end.

The Prairie Ronde Artist Residency provides access to the 420,000-square-foot former Lee Paper Company mill and its adjacent 80 acres of land to use as inspiration. Artists are encouraged to develop close ties to people in the village and the area’s creative community.

Hadley received an MFA in 2019 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been exhibited with the Roman Susan Art Foundation, Sullivan Galleries, and Dfrbl8r in Chicago, and the CICA Museum in South Korea. Her work has also been featured by Civilian Art Projects, Transformer, Dupont Underground, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in her hometown, Washington D.C.

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