Cantor Art Gallery Commissions Large-Scale Painting by Justine Hill '08 to Mark the Opening of Its New Home in the Prior Performing Arts Center

Justine Hill '08 in front of “The Travelers” (2022) in her studio in Brooklyn, NY. Courtesy Denny Dimin Gallery, New York.

The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery is pleased to announce that it has invited Brooklyn-based artist and College of the Holy Cross alumna Justine Hill ‘08 to create the inaugural installation for the Cantor Window Commission space located in the soon-to-open Prior Performing Arts Center (performing arts center; the center) on the College of the Holy Cross (Holy Cross) campus.

The performing arts center will be in active use as of the start of the Fall 2022 semester. An official dedication celebration will be held in December.

The work that will be on display at the Cantor is titled “The Travelers,” and is a monumental painting comprised of twelve shaped canvases. According to Hill, “the title and imagery push us to think outside of our present understanding, and are intended to stretch the imagination and move the voyage into a less restrictive, fantastical reality.” It will be installed in the new Cantor Window space above the main entrance to the Prior Performing Arts Center, a space conceived as a way for the gallery to have an overt public presence on campus with bold artwork visible on approach to the building.

The piece will be on display for public viewing starting with September 12 and for the remainder of the 2022 - 23 academic year as the inaugural Cantor Window Commission, a program that will invite artists to create site-specific works for display.

Justine Hill concentrated in visual arts at Holy Cross and went on to receive an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. Her work explores the boundaries of painting, using irregularly shaped canvases to create playful forms that challenge traditional notions of painting.

The individual panels in “The Travelers” slip between nameable and ambiguous forms. The shapes involved: the moons, the feet, the boat, the night sky, pull from references such as Akhnaten, an opera by Philip Glass, and it’s dramatic setting in Egyptian revival; the sculptural voids and nucleuses by visual artist Lee Bontecou; and many literary world builders such as N.K. Jemisin’s book “The Killing Moon,” where society has found a way to maintain “peace” by stealing dreams. “The Travelers” also owes a debt to visual artist Mary Beth Edelson’s “Great Goddess Cut-Outs” first exhibited in 1975. Hill states, “‘The Great Goddess Cut-Outs’ help explain the potential of an art object to simultaneously be a symbol, a place and a living-being, something I am always striving for in my work.”

Meredith Fluke, director of the Cantor Art Gallery, says, “We are honored that Hill has chosen to engage the Cantor and the campus with her thoughtful and ambitious work. It is hard to imagine a better way to open the new Prior Performing Arts Center with this inaugural commission. One of our most distinguished Holy Cross alumni artists, Hill has consistently pursued her painting practice since her time here and garnered much-deserved recognition from diverse sources. It also feels serendipitous to show the artist’s work this year, as Holy Cross celebrates the 50th anniversary of coeducation at the College.” 

Hill’s most recent solo exhibitions include ”Alternates” at MAKI Gallery in Tokyo (2022) and ”Touch at Denny Dimin Gallery in New York (2020) reviewed in The New York Times, among many others. 

Designed by the New York-based architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), the center is intended to be a hub of creative collaboration, production and appreciation across disciplines. The building will open this fall, and will feature state-of-the-art facilities including a proscenium theater, flexible performance and teaching spaces, costume and scene workshops, practice and recording rooms, video and film editing studios, a dance studio, as well as the Cantor Art Gallery.

DS+R have notably designed the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the renovation and expansion of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, The Shed, and the High Line, among many other projects. They were chosen as architects for this project for their innovative and expansive use of space, which fosters a sense of collaboration and community.