Commonwealth and Council

Art Basel 2019

EJ Hill


EJ Hill’s new installation University of Saint Tamir is comprised of objects that construct the visual language of an imagined classroom at a university named after Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old black American boy shot and killed by police in 2014 while playing in a park in Cleveland, Ohio. The works evoke themes and visuals commonly found within spaces of formal educational training and institutional learning–commemorative plaques and monuments, desks, lecterns, blackboards–but consider them from the position of those most vulnerable to institutional violence. With these works, Hill ultimately proposes a more generative and inclusive future in its actionable critique of the institutions that inhibit the oppressed from becoming their freest and most dynamic selves. 

Hill has been in dialogue with Ms. Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, and the activist Amanda King. Ms. Rice and King are working on founding the Tamir Rice Afrocentric Cultural Center, which will provide arts education and activities for local youth in Cleveland. Hill is working to amplify the foundation's efforts with his project at Art Basel. 

Hill’s work seeks to elevate bodies and amplify voices that have long been rendered invisible or inaudible by focusing largely on challenging social systems. In doing so, Hill engages with ideas about how bodies are formed, understood, and valued within different social and cultural contexts. 

EJ Hill (b. 1985, Los Angeles; lives and works in Los Angeles) received his MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2013 and BFA from Columbia College, Chicago in 2011. Select recent solo exhibitions have been held at Company Gallery, New York (2018); Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles (2017); Human Resources, Los Angeles (2017); ACRE Projects, Chicago (2012); The Hills Esthetic Center, Chicago (2011); and A+D Gallery, Chicago (2010). Hill has participated in group exhibitions at California African American Museum, Los Angeles (2019); Aspen Art Museum (2018); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018); Palazzo Contarini Polignac, Venice, Italy (2017); The Underground Museum, Los Angeles (2017); Institut d’art contemporain, Villeurbanne, France (2017); PinchukArtCentre, Kyiv, Ukraine (2017); Studio Museum, New York (2016); PIASA, Paris, France (2015); Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles (2014); and POPA Galleria de Arte, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2013). He is the recipient of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship at Harvard University (2018-19), Foundation for Contemporary Arts' Grants to Artists (2018); Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant (2018), the Mohn Public Recognition Award at the Hammer Museum’s Made in L.A. 2018 (2018), the Los Angeles Artadia Award (2018), the Art Matters Foundation Grant (2017), and the California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists (2015).