The Travelers was commissioned by the Cantor Art Gallery of Brooklyn-based artist Justine Hill. In this large-scale painting, the artist has covered shaped panels in canvas, and then layered them with paint, paper, pencil, appliques, and crayon; Hill’s compositions often utilize pattern, bright colors, and loose mark-making in complex and unique combinations. While her shapes allude to animal or human forms, they equally suggest landscape or place, and at times morph fluidly into pure symbol. For Hill, the forms are “both entire worlds and individuals, or perhaps entire worlds built by individuals all dressed up in beautiful decorative patterns.”
Created specifically for the Cantor window, The Travelers plays with the ambiguity of place and person. The monumental scale heightens the work's ability to evoke place, while the animate forms reference the titular travelers. By conjuring a fantastic, distant world through the paired moons, Hill draws from her interest in science fiction and fantasy novels (including the work of Ursula le Guin, Octavia Butler and N.K. Jemisin), as well as the production of Philip Glass’s 1983 opera Akhnaten, about the life and religious convictions of the Egyptian Pharaoh. In Hill’s words: “These stories of power and hardship, in unknown or extinct worlds, often show the dangerous possibilities in the creation of symbols, myths and common beliefs, but also the necessity for order and beauty to produce comfort and safety.”
A new initiative for the Cantor Art Gallery, the Cantor Window Commission is an opportunity to invite artists annually to create a site-specific artwork. The Cantor is honored to present Justine Hill’s work as its inaugural installation; the artist is a 2008 graduate of the College of the Holy Cross.