Editor’s note: Ann Chamberlain passed away on April 18, 2008.
Visual artist Ann Chamberlain worked in a variety of contexts (ranging from public art and printed books to installations) where she incorporated all kinds of media, including text, photographic imagery and found materials. In her works Chamberlain explored how public spaces and places express the identity, history and experience of the communities they serve.
Spark joined Chamberlain as she visited the UCSF Mount Zion Women’s Health Center, where she worked with others to replace a barren, concrete courtyard with a lush garden where cancer patients could share their personal stories with others. Wanting to give the patients’ stories a more permanent home, Chamberlain decided to take the Healing Garden “inside,” and created a 70 foot-long wall of ceramic tablets, each tablet containing the impression of a plant and the story of someone who had dealt with illness.
Spark also visited with Chamberlain while she worked on two other collaborations: a memorial to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (a group of Americans who fought fascism during the Spanish Civil War) and a project for the residents of Laguna Honda Hospital. By relating the narratives of everyday life through public art, Chamberlain created art that not only celebrates ordinary people, but also offers satisfaction and enrichment for the surrounding community.
Formerly the program director at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin, her public art commissions in California include a collaborative work with Ann Hamilton at the San Francisco Public Library and an exhibit at the California Supreme Court Building.