Fiscally Sponsored Artist Project - 2006
Project Title: Hart Island: An American Cemetery. The Hart Island Project began in 1991 as a documentary photography and public art collaboration between Joel Sternfeld (photographer) and Melinda Hunt (artist, filmmaker). Their book, Hart Island, was published by Scalo in 1998 to accompany a traveling exhibition in Germany and England 1998-2000. An installation marking the inaugural exhibition at the Lower Eastside Tenement Museum 1997-98 represented a smaller first exhibition of the Hart Island Project.
After the book Hart Island was published, people from around the world started to contact Melinda Hunt. She began to make arrangements for relatives of the deceased to visit Hart Island. Four of families agreed to share their stories in a documentary.
Pre-production funding was secured in 2000 with a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. A first cut was completed in 2002 in co-production with the Banff New Media Institute. The final cut was completed in 2007. Hart Island: An American Cemetery was selected to screen as part of the New Filmmakers NY Series at Anthology Film Archives, March 19, 2008.
In November 2007 the New York City Department of Correction agreed to provide copies of 1300 pages of current burial records to the Hart Island Project in compliance with a Freedom of Information Law request. These records account for approximately 50,000 burials on Hart Island from 1985 to 2007. Otherwise unavailable to the public, these records will become part of a searchable archive.
An Installation/Performance project, Buried in Bureaucracy, is proposed to engage the public in creating a searchable on-line database, The Hart Island Project Memorial Archive. The purpose of this archive is in keeping with the larger mission of the Hart Island Project: to make 101 acres in New York City visible and accessible to people around the world. Visitors to the exhibition will be invited to enter information from one page of the burial records into the database. Participants will have the option of receiving credit for the their contribution.
More about the Artist:
Artist, filmmaker Melinda Hunt was born in 1958 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She came to the United States to attend college receiving a combined B.A. from Reed College in Liberal Arts and a B.F.A. in Sculpture from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in 1981. She completed her M.F.A. in Sculpture at the Yale School of Art in 1985. She holds an M.S. in Digital Imaging & Design from New York University (2007).
Working in multi-media, her work since 1980 includes video, installation/performance, public art, set design, video and writing. In 1991, she founded The Hart Island Project. She has received numerous awards including two from the New York State Council on the Arts, Canada Council and Connecticut Commission on the Arts. She received the Moxie Docs competition award in 2003.
About the work samples:
Diptych Pair with a mass grave during and after an adult burial on Hart Island with a border or baby and adult burial records. Steel, photograph, rag paper. 40” x 48” each.
Recent Article on Melinda Hunt:
Melinda Hunt on The Hart Island Project, NYFA Current, December 5, 2007