John G. Hampton

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John G. Hampton
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  • Art Curator
  • Artist
  • Scholar
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John Gordon Hampton (they/them or he/him) is a Chickasaw Canadian-American art museum curator, artist, and scholar of indigenous art, and an advocate of repatriation and indigenous curatorial sovereignty. Hampton is currently the executive director and CEO of the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan, an adjunct curator at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto and an adjunct professor at the University of Regina.

As a proponent of curatorial and cultural sovereignty, Hampton is board co-chair of the Indigenous Curatorial Collective. While serving at MacKenzie, Hampton worked with Winnipeg artist Divya Mehra to reclassify and repatriate an 18th-century Hindu statue illicitly appropriated by Gallery founder Norman MacKenzie in 1913. This was MacKenzie's first indigenous repatriation and a gesture that received global publicity.[1]

Early life, family and education

Hampton was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Dr. Mary Hampton, a psychologist, and Eber Hampton, former president of the First Nations University of Canada (formerly Saskatchewan Indian Federated College) and former head of the Harvard American Indian Program.[2] Hampton's cousin is Adriel Hampton, an American entrepreneur, strategist, and political figure from California.[3]

While Hampton was still a baby, his family left Boston, where Mary Hampton was completing a PhD in psychology at Harvard University, and moved to Alaska, where Mary completed her PhD dissertation while teaching at Fairbanks University. A few years later in 1991, Eber Hampton was named president of what would later be named First Nations University of Canada, in Regina, and the family moved there, where Mary Hampton taught psychology at Luther College from 1991-2018.[4]

Hampton is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, the United States, and Canada. They have said that Mary Hampton's scholarship on, and personal experience with, adoptees and indigenous family relations taught John a "sense of family— of ancestral relations, both distant and recent—has helped shape my understanding of belonging and community" and that this would have a strong influence on their career in museum curation.[5] From 2004 to 2011, Hampton worked with his mother on Completing the Circle, a project devoted to the development of Aboriginal-centered end-of-life care.[4][6]

Hampton graduated with a BA in Visual Arts from the University of Regina, and then with a Masters of Visual Studies – Curatorial Studies from the University of Toronto [7] and holds a diploma in 3D Animation and Game Design from New Media Campus in Saskatoon.[8]


Hampton's original art includes digital collages, video montages, symmetrical object arrangements and multi-media productions illustrating themes such as European assimilation of indigenous culture and history, and the aesthetics of science and technology.[9]

After serving as curator-in-residence at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, Hampton was hired as Executive Director of the Art Gallery of Southwest Manitoba in Brandon.[4] Hampton has also served as Artistic Director of Trinity Square Video, and Curator at Neutral Ground Artist Run Centre. Named head curator at MacKenzie in 2018, Hampton stepped into the role of interim director of the Gallery in 2020, and became full director in 2022. MacKenzie was the first public art gallery to hire an Indigenous head curator, and then the first to hire an indigenous executive director and CEO of a public art gallery, in Canada.[8] [10]

As co-chair of co-chair of the Indigenous Curatorial Collective board of directors,[7] Hampton supports the collective in its mission to support and advance indigenous sovereignty in the art world, including providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding and honoraria for artists and artistic collectives.[11]

Hampton organized the exhibition "In Dialogue," co-produced by the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba and the Carleton University Art Gallery. The exhibition featured work by Raymond Boisjoly, Raven Davis, Tanya Lukin Linklater, the Native Art Department International collaborative and other indigenous artists. Hampton said the exhibit represented the “tumble of connections and contradictions that constitute contemporary Indigenous identities.”[12]

In an interview with Artnet, Hampton said that "[T]he people who are in a position to speak on behalf of other Indigenous folx often have more proximity to whiteness" and are thus "overrepresented in art and academia." Hampton said that there is no singular way to artistically express indigeneity and resistance, and that his own "lived experience is not representative of all Indigenous folx."[13]

Repatriation of Annapurna statue

In 2019, an 18th-century sculpture at the MacKenzie Art Gallery of Annapurna, the Indian goddess of nourishment, holding a bowl of rice, was identified by Winnipeg-based artist Divya Mehra as an object that had been stolen from a temple near Uttar Pradesh in 1913.[14] Hampton supported Mehra's proposal and efforts to return the statue to India. Hampton initiated a process of deaccessioning, gaining approval from MacKenzie Gallery's director, its permanent collection advisory committee, its board of directors, the University librarian and others. The University agreed to repatriate the piece, which was then installed at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in November 2021.[15] In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Hampton explained that Gallery founder and philanthropist Norman MacKenzie had spotted the sculpture while on a trip down the Ganges River in 1913, and had paid someone to steal the statue and give it to him. Hampton explained that this was a common practice at the time.[16][17][18]

As this was MacKenzie Gallery's first Indigenous repatriation,[1] these events received international media attention. Artnet recounted how artist Mehra became suspicious of the artifact while preparing her own exhibit at MacKenzie on the West's colonization of culture.[14] The Financial Express of India reported that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the statue "is returning to India 100 years since it was stolen from a temple in Varanasi (PM’s Lok Sabha constituency), sometime in or around 1913," calling it a "priceless legacy" . . . "[19] CTV News quoted MacKenzie curator Alex King, who said "the repatriation of this statue is part of an ongoing conversation among museums worldwide."[20]

Awards and publications

Hampton has published essays including "Uncertain Territory: Jimmie Durham's Contradictions of Identity" in Border Crossings Magazine,[21] and "Contemporary Rock Art" at the Rocks, Stones, Dust web site.[22]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Guignard, Jonathan. "MacKenzie Art Gallery hires John Hampton as permanent executive director, CEO - Regina |". Global News. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  2. "John G. Hampton appointed as Adjunct Curator at the Art Museum" (PDF). Art Museum at University of Toronto. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  3. Brown, Harold (15 June 2009). "Emptying Canteens in the Desert". Fog City Journal. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "John Hampton (U'09)". Retrieved April 1, 2023.
  5. Piper, Lynette (Spring 2021). "Alumni Profile: John G. Hampton". Luther Story. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  6. "Pflege am Lebensende".
  7. 7.0 7.1 "John Hampton named Executive Director & CEO of MacKenzie Art Gallery". Searchlight Partners. January 13, 2021. Retrieved January 13, 2023.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "John G. Hampton". Aabaakwad. Retrieved February 28, 2023.
  9. "art". John G. Hampton. Retrieved March 1, 2023.
  10. Martin, Ashley (February 11, 2021). "'Radical diversity': Hampton makes history at MacKenzie Art Gallery". The Regina Leader Post. Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  11. McNamara, Rea (15 March 2021). "The Indigenous Curatorial Collective Advances Sovereignty in the Art World". Hyperallergic. Retrieved March 1, 2023.
  12. Hampton, John G. "In Dialogue" (PDF). Retrieved March 1, 2023.
  13. Batycka, Dorian (15 February 2021). "'White Supremacy Has to Be Undone': The First Indigenous Leader of a Public Art Gallery in Canada on Decolonizing Museums". Artnet News. Retrieved March 1, 2023.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Boucher, Brian (24 November 2020). "While Installing Her Show at a Canadian Museum, an Artist Discovered a Looted Statue in the Collection. Now, It's Headed Back to India". Artnet News. Retrieved March 3, 2023.
  15. "Stolen Annapurna idol on way back after 100 years: Here's how it was lost and found". The Indian Express. 11 November 2021. Retrieved April 10, 2023.
  16. "1936: The Artful gift of Norman MacKenzie (MacKenzie Art Gallery)". Canada 150 @ usask. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
  17. "Sask. art gallery reviewing 2,000 pieces following return of stolen Indian statue". Yahoo News. December 2, 2021. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
  18. Mattern, Ashleigh (September 29, 2020). "Artist uncovers ethically dubious history of statue in MacKenzie Art Gallery collection". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  19. "India to get back 'smuggled' Annapurna idol from Canada: How it was tracked". Financialexpress. 1 December 2020. Retrieved February 1, 2023.
  20. Wiens, Colton (20 November 2020). "Statue stolen by MacKenzie Art Gallery namesake returning to India". Regina. Retrieved February 1, 2023.
  21. Hampton, John G. (June 2018). "Uncertain Territory: Jimmie Durham's Contradictions of Identity". (146). Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  22. Hampton, John G. "Contemporary Rock Art". Retrieved February 1, 2023.

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