2021 Poster Artist: Toni Ross

We are thrilled to reveal that the art work featured on the Hamptons International Film Festival 2021 poster will be Finding Beauty in a Dark Place, from local East End artist and HIFF co-founder and founding Chairman of the Board, Toni Ross.

You are invited to view Finding Beauty in a Dark Place at the Water Mill Center, October 7-17. 


Photo: Jenny Gorman

Artist Statement

Finding Beauty in a Dark Place directly contrasts the anxiety and distress caused by the pandemic with the graphic beauty of the daily published Covid19 informational graphs.

Consisting of fifty-two individual weavings of wool, cotton, linen, and silk, assembled as one piece measuring 18 feet in length, Finding Beauty in a Dark Place traces the course of the Coronavirus through the United States. Created using evolving data from Maine to Alaska over an eight-month period from early 2020 through February 2021, Finding Beauty was woven from yarns I have had since the 1980s, as well as newly collected fibers.

Creating this tactile work served as the navigational tool that guided me through the disorientation of the pandemic, providing me a place of respite, focus and discovery every day. Weaving each state’s graph gave materiality to the experience of the pandemic as patterns emerged, both visual and conceptual, that began to reveal the unfolding narratives of science, perception, inequity, messaging, and political decision making. In officially published Covid graphics, color was, and continues to be used, to create a common language for shared information about risk levels, death rates, and hospital capacity. While color selections I made for each state were chosen intuitively, red is used predominantly throughout as a unifying visual element and for its now all too familiar association with dangerously high infection rates. The loose, dangling yarns speak to the indecipherable chaos of this seemingly unending time, while the methodical exactness of the loom’s grid speaks to the promise of order implied by the daily published statistics.

Finding Beauty is a meditation on this troubled time: the sadness, the pain, and the fear, as well as the unexpected beauty, new pathways forward and deepened relationships. It highlights our differences as well as our similarities, our connectedness and our isolation. Finding Beauty in a Dark Place tells a story about the United States that is both seared in memory and seemingly without end. As my son said many months ago, “Remember when it was only two weeks?”


Toni Ross’s paintings, installations, and sculptures have been showcased around the world. As the founding Chairman of the Board of HIFF in 1993 and for the ensuing five years, she brought to the organization a deep knowledge and passion for film, and a cultivation of artistic integrity outside of the fine arts. A film studies graduate of Wesleyan University, Ross was instrumental in establishing the Wesleyan Cinema Archives, where she remains on the Board of Trustees. Her career includes work with several film production designers, most notably Philip Rosenberg and Mel Bourne.

As a social activist, Toni is also a founder of The Hayground School, where she has focused on the importance of diversity, removing barriers due to financial constraints and arts and culinary education. Ross is also a restaurant entrepreneur, with five East End favorites including Nick & Toni’s, and a supporter of Guild Hall, OLA, and Planned Parenthood, among other non-profit organizations. In a prescient move, Ross founded and curates the biennial series “Women Artists: Reshaping the Conversation” in East Hampton.


Previous festival poster artists include Bastienne Schmidt (2020), Lee Krasner (2019), Paton Miller (2018), Eric Fischl (2017), John Alexander (2016), Bruce Weber (2011), Julian Schnabel (2001), April Gornik (1995, 2005), Cindy Sherman (2006) and Donald Sultan (1996), among others.


The 2021 edition of the Hamptons International Film Festival will take place October 7–13 with live and in-person events and screenings across the Hamptons. Passes will be on sale after Labor Day. See the announcements to date.

HamptonsFilm will take enhanced safety measures for the 29th edition in accordance with COVID-19 regulations across the state. Attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination for all in-person events, and will be required to wear masks. HamptonsFilm holds the safety of our guests, filmmakers, and staff as our highest priority, and is closely monitoring any and all changes to New York State and Suffolk County health guidelines.

HIFF thanks the supporters for this year’s festival, including corporate sponsors Audi, Netflix, KORE Private Wealth, and official media sponsors WNBC, Variety, The Purist, and The East Hampton Star. HamptonsFilm is grateful for the long-term support from New York State Council on the Arts and Suffolk County.

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