In this my second column as cultural critic for the Alternative Press, I have decided to do an interview with the Ms. Lucy Hodgson, the artist responsible for the stunning installation on the Village Green in Summit across from the post office.
I first came across Lucy's work at an outdoor sculpture show I saw in Brooklyn about three years ago. For me, Lucy's work is all about line and gesture - I guess all sculpture is in some way - but I love the lyrical qualities some of the works suggests, as well as the strong gestural energy of her "found" tree pieces. These works were previously shown as part of "Art in the Garden 2009" at the Reeves Reed Arboretum, but after seeing them together like this on the Green I now realize that they were not optimumly shown while at Reeves Reed.
Lucy has an incredibly interesting story and history in the art world, and was part of a tremendous evolution both in art but also in the place of women in the art world.
Below follows our interesting conversation:
Michael Tcheyan (MT): What got you interested in the first place?
Lucy Hodgson (LH): Everyone in my family painted, drew or made things so I just assumed that that's what people did. So you always had a lot of support from the family -- no pressure to go into a money making career -- well, I was supposed to make a living -- and I did teach and go to college to find a career etc., however, no one pressured me to do things I did not want to do. Also I was a girl; it was quite different back then in the 40' and 50's.
MT: Where did you teach?
LH: I taught printmaking and drawing at Franklin and Marshall College and at the Printmaking Workshop in NYC. I owe much of who I am and what I do to a period where I had no money and was struggling to raise children, to the Printmaking Workshop in NYC, which allowed me to do what I do at a time when I had no money - couldn't afford babysitters and so forth.
The Printmaking Workshop was run by a remarkable individual named Bob Blackburn and novices like me could learn a lot just by being able to work alongside the great artists from all across the world who came to work with Bob. At the workshop one was neither a student, nor an apprentice, and, if other artists liked one, they would give advice and encouragement.
My initial interest in printmaking was stimulated by a professor at Oberlin College, Wolfgang Stechow, who gave a wonderful course in the History of Printmaking.
MT: So you essentially started as a printmaker and then evolved into sculpture?
LH: Well, being a mother without a studio, and married to a photographer who had his darkroom in our kitchen (the bathroom was also in the kitchen), it was great to be able to get out of the house to go to a studio. We lived in NYC on 70th and First in a tenement building where the rent was $21.85/month.
MT: When did you make your first sculpture?
LH: I guess it would have been around 1980, I was working with laminated wood that I then carved with a grinder.
MT: And how did you evolve to working with the kinds of materials we are showing on the Village Green?
LH: By the time I made them, I was in my current studio downtown. Before that time I had been working in very large scale prints. For example, I was doing prints that could be as large as 20 feet long made in 30 x 40 in sections. I had shown them in 1978 in something called "10 Downtown" an annual exhibition of 10 artists who opened their studios to the public (I actually, sold some of them to Citicorp.).
However, soon it seemed to me that the sculptors were having more fun than printmakers, so I started working with wood and did the first laminated pieces. At that time, I was also getting a masters in Anthropology at NYU where I was studying the work of various pre-literate societies all over the world who were making enormously complicated woven objects, bags and structures etc.
Inspired by these concepts, I abandoned the wooden pieces and began making a lot of woven twig sculptures, which I exhibited in 1986 at the same gallery I show in now called "Soho 20". The large wooden pieces like the ones on the Green came later.
MT: What do you feel or think when you look at your work currently on the Village Green?
LH: I like the trees for their very anthropomorphic qualities. The trees are very humanoid forms in and of themselves and I have not carved then in any way. As for the shingles, I first started using them simply for the bases of sculptures like "Roof Tree" and then found that I was interested in them for their own qualities. Now they are the central feature in much of my more recent work.
MT: How has your experience of showing in Summit compared with other exhibition venues you have been involved in?
LH: Very pleasant. I've met some very nice people. When I was putting the works up on the Green, lots of people stopped and mentioned that they had seen my other piece at the High School and gave me some great feedback. It was really a very agreeable experience.