Category Archives: Archives

Hollis Hammonds: Worthless Matter

hammonds

Things Hollis Hammonds is Obsessed with:

1. Japanese Manga

2. Post Apocalyptic Narratives

3. Superhero Movies

4. Really Bad Action/Armageddon Films.

“I love seeing the explosions,” she says, leaning over the bar counter, peering around and smiling at me.  Professor and chair of visual studies at St Edwards University in Austin, Texas: but with her black pageboy, smoke-colored glasses and clear gaze, Hollis Hammonds could be a character in one of her manga adventures.

A mad professor, an evil genius, doing what she can to reimagine the materialistic world.

In real life, Hammonds has 11 full-time faculty members, and “I don’t even know how many part-time members.”  Although she teaches three classes a day and for a time also ran a gallery, she shows constantly.  She’s had 10 solo shows all around the country just in the past two years.  “I tend to be more productive in shorter blocks.”

We’re at Closed for Business on a steamy Sunday- on Mother’s Day, in fact, although as I write this, I realize I neglected to ask her if she has any children. (She doesn’t, although she does have a dog.)

“Can I get something really light and crisp?” she says.  “I tend to like Chinese or Japanese beer.”  The bartender amiably sets her up with a tulip of Hitachino. I order a Chocolate Rye Porter.

“I have a couple manifestations of the work,” she says.  “Primarily, though, I draw.  These piles, islands of objects.”

Aftermath: Asteroid

Aftermath: Asteroid

It started in April of 2011, when more than 200 tornadoes broke over the United States in a four day period.  Watching coverage, Hammonds became interested in how “we, as viewers, are interested in the aftermath of both man-made and natural disasters.”

Also drawing on the aftermath of the house fire she experienced herself as a teenager, she began making charcoal sketches on white paper: “Dystopian, futuristic, kind of dark but seductive.”

“Destruction is seductive,” I say.  “We’re drawn to what destroys us.”  Chocolate rye, you’ll be the death of me.

“Yes.”

In Ruins

In Ruins

So her work started as “documentation, homage. Of course, now I’ve turned it into this indulgent fascination with materialistic consumption.  My father was born in the 1920s, my mother in the 1930s.  So they hoarded everything.  I mean, we had an entire room dedicated to plastic containers.  They could not throw anything away.”

I’ve seen Hoarders.  I asked if animal carcasses were ever found amidst the containers.

“That’s the defining line, isn’t it?” Hammonds said.  “No, it never got that far.  Before the house burned, though, my mother had a lot of collections.  She had her mother’s things, her grandmother’s things.  Old furniture, things like that.  But it was after the fire that her desire to collect these things really intensified.  She began to collect dolls, Lilliput houses.  Trying to hang on to something, I guess.”

“You think collections are a way for people to try to comfort themselves?”

“Oh, sure.”

While Hammonds doesn’t have any collections herself, her husband, a graphic designer, does have “a collection of graphic design toys on this floating shelf.”  She laughs.  “He takes them down, rearranges them, everything.  It’s so funny.”

She likes to do work that is endemic to place, and so she always sources her materials from the cities where she makes her installation.  “I got this new studio two years ago, and I did start thinking it’d be great to have a space to collect things for installations.”  She shook her head, smiling ruefully. “But we have this policy- it’s from Pinterest– anything comes in, something has to go out.  We keep everything minimal and clean.  Even artwork has to be approved.”  She laughs again.  “By my husband.”

What do her parents think of her art?   “Maybe they’d feel a little… mocked, I don’t know.”  But her parents are both deceased.  They were each married and divorced prior to having Hammonds, and she has 11 half brothers and sisters, all ranging from 30 to 11 years older than her.  She shrugs when I ask her what they think of her work.

“A lot of them really don’t know what’s going on in my life.  One sister is a quilt artist.  Recently she says to me, “couldn’t there be some leaves?”  She sips her beer.  “You know, I look at people like Anselm Kiefer.  His work is very dark and also amazing.  I don’t think my work is as dark as his, really, but it also ride that line of beauty and terror. My installations, because they are in physical space- the viewer experiences them with a sense of wonder.  They’re visceral.”

I was curious if the house fire she experienced as a girl changed her immediately- or did its impact take a while to surface?

“Going through the process of losing everything as a teenager certainly informed my personality.  I learned to not have emotional attachment to objects.  I treat objects as a metaphor for the human condition but also self-worth.  I’m interested in how collections can validate us societally, personally.  And I’ve lost a lot of people, so I’ve also gone through the process of sorting through these… artifacts.   I have this shoebox. With my father’s license, my mother’s birth certificate, trinkets like that.  And I also have this box of old photographs.  I’ll keep those until they’re lost.”

“It would be awful to throw away photographs.  I always feel horrible when I see those boxes of old photographs for sale in antique stores.  But I wonder if maybe that’s what it takes to move on as a society, philosophically- the destruction/abandonment of objects.  Do you think objects might hold us back from progress?”

She shrugged.  “Our search for power is consuming the world.”  We were quiet a moment, looking around at the happy clutter of the bar.  “I used to be a figurative artist,” she mused.  “I was obsessed with it.  But I’ve got to this stage in my work when I’m more fascinated with storytelling. I took the figure out completely.  I use the things that are left behind to signify the figures.  Chairs, you know.  People’s things.”

“Keeping just the echo of the figure.”

“Yes.  I had that passionate obsession with drawing figures,” she says, to the counter.  “Not to say that it won’t come back, but I don’t have that anymore.”

We finish our beers and walk back to Redux.  It’s locked up, according to a hand-drawn sign, “for all the Mothers in the world. Happy Mother’s Day!”  Hammonds unlocks it, flips on the lights.  The interior is blissfully cool and quiet.  I hug her tightly and then leave her standing there, in an arena of people’s cast off things.

Come see what she’s made of them at the opening of Worthless Matter on May 16th.  Artist talk at 5:30 pm.

endemic sourcing

endemic sourcing

Planning the installation

Planning the installation

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-article by Pauline West, a novelist and writer for Redux Contemporary Art Center.  She is at work on her first Southern Gothic.

Thank You, Thank You

Thanks to everyone who made The Recurring Revival at Redux a huge success! 

Good times…..

James Turrell – Skyspaces

Our current exhibition, The Ecstasy of Knowing, has us thinking about master of light, James Turrell.

James Turrell (b. 1943) is an American artist and Quaker who often describes himself as a sculptor of light. His work mixes architecture, sculpture and atmosphere to communicate feelings of transcendence and mediation.

Skyspace, James Turrell, Photo by Florian Holzherr

Turrell is known for his amazing Skyspaces, enclosed rooms where he subtly changes the light around an aperture in a roof, manipulating the viewer’s perception of the sky from a flat to three-Dimensional space.

Sky Pesher by James Turrell, Walker Art Center

Visitors are encouraged to spend contemplative time in his spaces as each one provides an array of changing colors throughout the day.  There are several skyspaces in the United States and around the world.

Meeting (Skyspace) by James Turrell, MoMA PS1

Meet Teil Duncan – Come to Her First Solo Exhibition Tonight!

Self-portrait by Teil Duncan, oil painting

Teil Duncan is one of Redux’s new studio artists. Tonight she will have her first solo exhibition at the Costa & Williams Dental Health Care office on James Island (325 Folly Road, Suite 310). There will be an opening reception this evening from 5-8pm where drinks and hor d’oeuvres will be served.

We interviewed Teil today. Here’s what she had to say:

Describe your current show/work. The show consists of a group of twenty paintings of figurative, still life and architectural subjects in various sizes. 

What inspires you? I am inspired by light. The subjects of my paintings vary, but I ultimately chose what I paint according to the lighting that is cast—with great lighting comes more colors.

Who are your favorite artists? Off the top of my head, I am drawn to Ray Turner for his brushwork; Brian Rutenburg for his texture and composition; Simon Birch for the motion that he captures; and Susie Pryor for her painterly style. 

Describe your ideal day. It would start with a large cup of coffee! Then, I’d stroll over to my studio at Redux to get a little painting in. Next—off to the beach for a bike ride and attempt to surf. Later that afternoon, I would go crabbing and shrimping and end my day with a big low-country boil.

If you’re not painting, you are….doing yoga, walking on the beach or strolling through downtown—checking out local art.

Favorite quote? Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. —Confucius

Favorite song/musician? Lana Del Rey

Future goals? To become a successful artist where I would have the freedom to donate my paintings for the benefit of others without seeing the income. Also, to become a decent surfer!

Seeing Our Name in Lights

Redux, neon sign by Keith Lemley; photo by Lindsay Windham

We’re seeing our name in lights these days thanks to Keith Lemley!! Come by and check out our new sign ~ it’s radiantly beautiful.

Lindsay Windham, one of Redux’s fabulous studio artists, captured this Instagram image at the opening. 

Daniel Kaufmann: House Home

House Home 4, Daniel Kaufmann, 36"x43" Archival Pigment Print, 2008

With just three days left to view Redux’s exhibit, Home Again, Home Again, one last question comes to mind, “How does one build a home?” 

Daniel Kaufmann addresses this very question in his series, House Home, a vibrant and dynamic body of work that challenges viewers to explore consumerism and personal identity in a clever way. These digitally constructed rooms are composed of photographic images from the artist’s home and that of his friends with the objects from several home-furnishing catalogs.  Believing that living spaces reflect who we are, Kaufmann states on his website, “I am interested in how ideas such as home and lifestyle are constructed through the objects we choose to buy and display in our homes.”  

We first came across Kaufmann’s work on FlakPhoto.com, an inspiring web publication started by Andy Adams. It is a wonderful resource to photographers and photo enthusiasts worldwide.  Check it out.

Luis Gispert at Art Basel Miami Beach

Imagine our excitement to see another artist from our archives and the same show The Constructed Image featured in the new Details Magazine! Luis Gispert is a New Jersey born artist who lives and works in New York City.  One of his photographs appears in The symptom, Issue 1, courtesy of Massimo Audiello.  His film Smother was exhibited in the Winter of 2008 at Mary Boone Gallery in New York City.

Learn More >