My background in public art taught me that the history and character of a place are not only key to a work’s meaning but offer rich soil in which to root creative inquiry. I approach service to this college in the same manner, aware that our best futures lie in learning ever more from our location in this place and time. Our college carries a wealth of experience in the ways it has served the state over the decades, from the Festival of Contemporary Arts that brought visionaries to East Central Illinois in the 1950s and 1960s to the great work of our East St. Louis Action Research Project toward the end of that same century. We also need to reach deeper to learn from the longer histories of dispossession and even slavery on which this university rose to prominence as a part of America’s westward expansion. Here in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, I could not ask for better colleagues in the work of imagining and realizing a future in which we squarely face the past, with all its darkness and light. We also enjoy growing understanding among our neighbors of the fundamental role of the arts and design in the stewardship of this planet and its inhabitants. It’s a great time to be in the arts at a land-grant university—this college offers a rare and precious platform from which to imagine a whole new way of living together. It is my great privilege to facilitate such important and vital collective work.
Dean, College of Fine & Applied Arts
Professor, School of Art & Design
Kevin Hamilton was appointed dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts in 2018. He is also a professor of new media in the School of Art and Design and previously served as senior associate dean in the college.
A member of the Illinois faculty since 2002, he holds appointments in the Media and Cinema Studies program in the College of Media and has held campus fellowships at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the Center for Advanced Study. Hamilton’s scholarship and artwork have earned support from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Illinois Arts Council. Recent research on the role of photography in nuclear weapons research culminated in his book with Ned O’Gorman, Lookout America! The Secret Hollywood Studio at the Heart of the Cold War (Dartmouth College Press, 2018). Previous efforts include artwork on race and public memory, publication on interdisciplinary research methods, and examination of racial bias in algorithmic systems. Hamilton’s training as a painter at the Rhode Island School of Design and in public art at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology continues to inform his investments and approach.