Sculptor and printmaker, Lucy Hodgson, talks about her new series, which will be on display from March 3 – 27, 2016 at SOHO20 Gallery. Hodgson uses a whimsical, but formal language to lament the destruction of the natural world, while her mixture of organic and industrial materials address the toxic relationship humans have with the environment.
AP: What is the new series you are working on?
LH: It’s called Keystone Roundup. It’s supposed to be a herd of deer that’s been consumed by the keystone pipeline. This all started because I was working with boxes. Boxes were a device to allow a sculpture I was making to stand up, to hide the structure. It was a great device frankly. I like the idea of what we call a plain pine box, which is a coffin. If you get buried in a plain pine box, that’s a pauper’s coffin, so that idea became these little boxes which are made of concrete.
The boxes are good representations of prisons – we’re imprisoned in this industrial, material culture and it is consuming the natural environment in a very unattractive way. They are containers that both produce something bad and suck the rest of the environment into them.
Lucy Hodgson, Keystone Roundup, 2014. Concrete, Steel pipe and antlers
app. 12’l x 9’w x 1.5’h.
AP: What drew you to sculpture over other art forms?
LH: I started because I acquired this loft 35 years ago. Simply, I had the space to do it – I’m a very practical person. When I started out people in New York had space. Space was cheap. This loft was cheap. It breaks my heart to see younger artists now, they have no place to work and they are living with six other people. It’s going to produce a very different aesthetic.
AP: Is your work best suited to be outside?
LH: Not necessarily – I find it difficult with sculpture. Most sculpture suffers from being outside because it’s really difficult to make something that the environment doesn’t overwhelm. It has to have some reference point.
AP: What is the selection process for your materials? Is any of it found?
LH: Most of its found. My earlier work was only with found materials or organic materials. That suffered from the fact that you couldn’t put it outdoors for very long.
AP: Is it important for your sculptures to last?
LH: No, that shouldn’t dictate form. However, it does matter in public structure because its supposed to last, so usually it’s made of something that’s not really exciting. Bronze is hardly ever exciting on its own. It’s made with efficiency of fabrication in mind, so it loses all life.
I have a Masters in Anthropology, and I was interested in the cultures that make very important sculpture out of very impermanent materials…where the idea was more important than the permanence of the piece.
AP: What other mediums have you worked with?
LH: I started out as a print maker. I went to Robert Blackburn’s printmaking workshop. I was there for about 10 years in the 1960s and 1970s. It was invaluable experience because I wasn’t an apprentice or student to anybody. I was just there, messing around, and big name print makers would come by and say “try that”. It was a great place.
AP: Have you incorporated etching in your sculpture?
LH: Printmaking is like sculpture – a matter of making things work, planning things out. Starting here, and piling on different layers, manipulation…It’s a great discipline.
This piece is actually steel but it’s coated with polyester so whole thing looks like an oil drip. Its called The Big Picture, which is a reference to the oil industry. The steel plates actually come from the etching – I etched them out with acid.
Lucy Hodgson, The Big Picture, 2009. Steel, coated with Envirotek and wood
76 x 11 x 14 inches.
AP: You have explored various environmental issues through art for decades. Have you seen any progress in society’s relationship with the environment since you began?
LH: Not really. There’s a lot more talk about it because there are more people now, and it’s been politicized. I think people are somewhat more careful than they used to be – for instance, people are now generally embarrassed if they have to cut down a whole forest. Of course we are aware of the pollution we weren’t aware of in the 1970s. You should’ve seen New York in the 1970s. You have no idea how dirty it was.
AP: Do you consider yourself optimistic about the future of this planet based on our current trajectory?
LH: Not at all. I’m going to be dead.