Opening October 21, 2016, the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts presents Reverse Reflection Prints and Drawings, a solo exhibition by Valerie Hammond. Including drawings, prints, ceramic sculpture, and a large-scale paper installation, Reverse Reflection Prints and Drawings reflects the wide range of idioms characterizing Hammond’s fluid artistic practice–from intensively representational to abstract, from the concrete to the transient, deeply real and dreamlike all at once.
Blue Anemone and Séance, both on view at the Kleinert/James, were created at the St. Louis printmaking residency Wildwood Press and reveal Hammond’s combined fascination with Victorian botanical photography and medical illustration. Starting in the late 1990s, Hammond took up tracing hands and arms, mostly of women and children, then using layers of wax to secure pressed ferns and other organic material within the perimeter of the tracings. Experimentation in Photoshop—indeed what Hammond describes as an accident–resulted in dark, deep blue backgrounds, while the plant material, placed in such a way as to echo bones, veins, and circulatory systems, turned a ghostly white. “The works suddenly inhabited a space I had been searching for,” she notes, “straddling the indefinable boundary between presence and absence, material and immaterial, consciousness and the unconscious.” In all their dualism Hammond’s hand tracings resist a singular identity as works on paper; they are as corporeal as they are fleeting, as sculptural and tangible as they are elusive.
The deep blue of Hammond’s hand tracings finds a different environment in another work at the Kleinert/James, Blue Rainbow, a diaphanous grid of Japanese paper printed in indigo ink. Combining the minimalism of Agnes Martin with the romantic patterning of Arts & Crafts era textiles, Blue Rainbow is a celestial abstraction where points of light are created by a combination of randomly placed hole-punches and glass hatpins; executed specially for the work, Hammond’s hand-blown hat pins are as much installation tool as aesthetic ingredient. Another work in the exhibition, Gaze, is a shimmering relief print that incorporates silver leaf.
Hammond received her MFA from the University of California at Berkeley. Her work is included in public and private collections including the Walker Art Center, Fine Arts Museum Houston, the Library of Congress, New York Public Library’s Print and Drawing Collection, J. Paul Getty Museum, Progressive Art Collection, Chazen Museum of Art, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the Grand Palais in Paris, and the Fidelity Collection. Her impressive exhibition history includes museum and gallery shows in the United States and internationally, including a solo show curated by Kiki Smith. Hammond teaches advanced printmaking at Columbia University and New York University.
This exhibition is curated by Portia Munson.
VALERIE HAMMOND: REVERSE REFLECTION PRINTS AND DRAWINGS is on view through Sunday, November 27, at the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts. The opening reception is from 4:00 to 6:00 pm on Saturday, October 22.