David Hilliard's large-scale, multi-paneled, color photographs present complex narratives exploring a range of themes and situations, from quiet moments of contemplation to scenes of heightened drama. Documenting his life and the lives of those around him, each work comprises a number of images that employ slightly different focal points, offering multiple perspectives of a single scene. Hilliard takes the personal and familiar and manipulates them to provide a commentary on larger issues such as masculinity, coming of age, sexuality, and spirituality; striking a balance between autobiography and fiction.
Hilliard has photographed his father on numerous occasions, and these works exemplify the artist’s ability to fuse fact with fiction. In the triptych Rock Bottom (2008), we see Hilliard’s father standing in a lake on the left panel, and Hilliard himself in the right panel, while the middle panel contains a view across the lake. The work simultaneously alludes to Hilliard’s relationship with his father while also offering a more general visualization of the process of aging. The expanse of water that separates the two men divides them both visually and metaphorically, illustrating the emotional and generational distance between them.
Born in 1964 in Lowell, Massachusetts, Hilliard lives and works in Boston. He received his BFA from Massachusetts College of Art in 1992, and his MFA from Yale University in 1994. His work has been exhibited in numerous institutions including Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Kemper Art Museum, St Louis; Miami Art Museum; Addison Museum of American Art, Andover; Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Tampa; and DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA. Hilliard’s work is represented in many public collections including Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Hilliard was the recipient of a Fulbright Grant and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and he was awarded the Bok Center Award for Excellence in Teaching by Harvard University in 2012. He has been a visiting lecturer at numerous schools, including Harvard University; Dartmouth College; Art Institute of Boston; and the Massachusetts College of Art & Design.