Alumni Spotlight: Dr Naomi Hunter

Alumni Spotlight: Dr Naomi Hunter


Naomi Hunter, Bend and Fold (detail).

 A sculptor working primarily with glass, Dr Naomi Hunter’s practice revolves around understanding and challenging the cultural norms regarding the human body.

Through exploring objective understanding of the body, particularly within a scientific or medicalised setting, “the duality of embodiment and the role of the lived experience of being-a-body becomes apparent” explains Dr Hunter.

Dr Hunter received her PhD from the School of Art, Architecture and Design, University of South Australia, in 2016. Her research was concerned with the subject experience of our bodies: “my research investigated an experience of embodiment through considering the concept of a body as process and as continually being in process.” After receiving her PhD, Hunter spent a month as graduate-in-residence at the Canberra Glassworks.

This idea of the body as a process is explored through Hunter’s experiential installation works, in which the viewer is immersed within the work, not merely viewing it from the outside. A particular research interest is taken in the relationship between the body and its constituent parts; Hunter speaks of the body as “indeterminate … the ongoing continuum of a body as a subjective entity can be understood through examining its parts.”

Hunter’s fascination with the body in a medical setting was nurtured through her time as artist-in-residence at the University of Adelaide Medical School in the Paediatrics and Reproductive Health department. The residency allowed her to explore her interest in scientific processes and allowed previously inaccessible contact with a laboratory setting. Hunter cites this residency as a formative experience for her practice and during this time developed a major work that was later exhibited as part of the 2018 Emerging Art Glass Prize.

Imagy courtesy of the artist.

This year, in an apt continuation of her research and practice, Dr Hunter has been granted the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) Artist in Residence, awarded as a part of the South Australia Living Artists (SALA) Festival.

With this residency based in the Mind and Brain department, Hunter hopes to examine more closely the “dynamics between the subjective and objective understanding of the human body, and develop a better understanding of medical imaging of the brain … exploring the relationship between these images and the experience of the patient.”

Working specifically with researchers looking at Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease, Hunter’s own lived experience has been a driving influence in her practice: “two diseases attributed to the brain affect my immediate family … my father has Parkinson’s and my mother has Alzheimer’s.” When the brain no longer functions as it once did, Hunter says, “its complexity becomes even more apparent.”

Dr Hunter will be working with three key researchers at SAHMRI. Dr Cedric Bardy, Dr Tim Sargent, and Dr Christopher Proud.

The residency will culminate in an exhibition during SALA in August at SAHMRI, with a launch event including an artist talk and panel discussion.

Follow Dr Hunter’s residency journey on Instagram @theglasshunter.

Study with the School of Art, Architecture and Design