Hadley’s work has been widely exhibited in Chicago, IL, Vicksburg, MI, Gimpo-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, and her hometown of Washington, DC. She received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA from the Corcoran College of Art & Design. Hadley currently resides in Portland, OR where she works as a graphic designer and enjoys taking great advantage of the unsurpassed Pacific Northwest landscape.

Listen to Hadley discuss her work in an interview with Zinta Aistars, Art Beat: Art in Light,” WMUK Radio, Kalamazoo, MI.


Even the things we are certain we know are full of things we have never seen. My works are immersive, durational, site-conditioned environments. I take familiar materials (think sheer fabric or a scrap of wood) that people usually have a strong understanding of and apply incredibly simple abstract animation strategies to them (expanding and contracting white lines, for example). Because of the simplicity, the “how” is fully revealed. However,  with carefully attuned timing and a viewing situation that invites very close attention, completely unexpected phenomena arise. I want to shift the way people see reality, even if only for a little while. These kinds of exercises could help set the stage for deep changes in society; we can’t imagine a different future if we believe we know everything. Discord between expectation and lived experience reminds us to remain teachable and that categories are not comprehensive.

Above all, my practice is a manner of looking. Using time- and light-based media, I ask:

1.    How does assumed knowledge prevent real knowledge, or, even simple awareness?

2.    How does engagement with an ideologically constructed reality impede and prevent engagement with true reality (i.e.: corporations have more rights than people, environmental consciousness is an inconvenience)?

3.    Can focused preceptual encounters strengthen the public’s ability to distinguish between reality and ideology (critical analysis)?

4.    How can I approach this process with personal vulnerability and emotion so as to, hopefully, make a space of emoting and healing for others, as well.


Western thought has maintained, since the Renaissance, a vantage point separate from the world. We are not part of the world. We look out upon it. This is a lie. In art, one point perspective epitomizes this fallacy. We call this lie Realism. One point perspective does not exist. We are within and of the world. We see many things at once. In order to bring our cultural vision closer to reality, we must abandon this idea of a fixed, exterior looking-on in favor of a vision that requires multiple perspectives to form a complete picture. Art is the most logical and effective place to initiate this cultural change.



Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, by
Lawrence Weschler

“Is the moment of perception — that first moment, before all the abstracting, conceptualizing processes that follow — is that moment closest or furthest from the real? Everything depends on your answer to that question.”

“We’re talking about a mental construct to which the whole civilization has deeply committed itself. And what it says, simply, is that as I walk through the world, I bring into focus certain things which are meaningful, and others are by degrees less in focus, dependent upon their meaningfulness in terms of what I’m doing, to the point where there are certain things that are totally out of focus and invisible. We organize our minds in terms of this hierarchical value structure, based on certain ideas about meaning and purpose and function. And perhaps more than anything else, modernist art as a movement has arisen as a critique of that hierarchical structure. When art begins the process of taking all the pictorial out of the pictorial, taking all the symbolic meaning out of the mark and the line, what it’s really doing, essentially, is flattening that value structure.”

“[Modernism has] been a long, arcing dissent from the dominant abstract systematization, the technological qualification that has so characterized the rest of human experience during the past two centuries. Technology is wonderful, the improvements it has brought are fantastic. But the modernist trajectory over the past two hundred years has been about everything that progress has been leaving out. Quality as opposed to quantity. Quality, which can only be experienced by each unique individual, phenomenologically, across the passage of lived time.”

Notes Toward a Conditional Art,“The Art of Pure Inquiry”  
“As artists, the one true inquiry of art as a pure object is an inquiry of our potential to know the world around us and our actively being in it, with a particular emphasis on the aesthetic. This world is not just somehow given to us whole. We perceive, we shape the world, and as artists, we discover and give value to our human potential to “see” the infinite richness (beauty?) in everything, creating an extended aesthetic reality.” 


Donald Judd
“Rather than showing us what the world is like, credible art complicates the present.”


Heightened Perception:
Donald Judd, John
Chamberlain, Robert
Irwin, and Larry Bell,
“A prominent similarity becomes clear amid the perceptual experiments of Donald Judd, John Chamberlain, Robert Irwin, Larry Bell, and several other artists in the 1960s and 1970s. These painters and sculptors made works that bring about new visual phenomena and that demand a specialized mode of vision, a way of seeing that trades the utility and efficiency of everyday sight for a hypersensitive focus upon what is unusual and barely discernible. The payoff for the extreme amounts of time and effort required to observe artworks in this manner constitutes common ground as well. By engaging their paintings, objects, and spaces, one can gather new knowledge.”

“Most works are best understood visually and not verbally, of course, and the translation into language of thoughts inextricably tied to material, space, and phenomena presents additional difficulties.”

“The failure of language seems to coincide with the discovery of unprecedented phenomena and of the impending limits to one’s present perceptual capacity. Probing this threshold remains a promising way both to encounter fresh sensations and to continue heightening one’s sensitivity to even subtler phenomena.”

“Sensations for which we have no good name begin to register when one takes a little time to look more closely than usual.”

“Often, with [Irwin’s] art, the phenomena one perceives ultimately defy direct description.”

“The dot and disc paintings refine acuity across the board, eliciting unaccustomed examination of sights thought already familiar, first glimpses of phenomena heretofore subliminal, and newfound sensitivity—albeit unconscious—to stimuli altogether imperceptible before.”

“Experiencing these sensations, and re-learning how things look and how they are, amounts to new knowledge about a world that can sometimes seem exceedingly familiar when we cannot take the time to scrutinize it.”

“By perceiving phenomena so unlike what we normally apprehend, we learn about the novel sensations themselves but also discover the existence of vast amounts of sensory data that go unremarked in art objects and in the world at large.”

© 2022 Pamela Hadley