September 15 – October 14, 2018
Opening Reception: Saturday September 15th, 4 – 7 PM
A delicate net hangs in the air, still until an invisible current, a release of breath, a quiet whisper, stirs it into motion. A river of river teeth, turbulent, with whorls and currents, lies below it. Pat Hickman’s installation, in its component parts, evokes both memory and constant change.
Deeply rooted in nature, history, and her profound interest in indigenous textiles, Pat Hickman’s work makes visible the overlooked and unseen. Her sculptures trace the invisible and flowing natural forces of both wind and water, drawing with decaying materials to indicate movement. Her use of plant and animal membrane emphasizes the impermanence of time, aging and mortality. A tree falls. Over time, living creatures, wind and weather hollow it from the inside out, exposing what before was invisible: the cross-grained, pitch-hardened remains of branches that grew from the interior out through the bark to become a branch. We call them knots when they appear sliced in a cut board. Found in rivers and worn smooth, sailors called them river teeth. Hickman covers these objects with skin membrane, the inner guts of an animal. What is invisible in the body becomes an outer skin, covering what was invisible in the tree.
Hickman’s net, with its lines, knots, and eyes, floats above this river. What will pass through it? What will it catch? Her river of river teeth, given new skin, lies below it. Flotsam and jetsam? Memory as hard as a tooth?
Obsessive labor, the slowing down of time and stepping out of the urgent pace of daily life lend space and intimacy to Hickman’s process, and to the viewer’s experience of the work. In the artist’s own words, “it’s about holding what cannot be captured: light, color, breath, time.”
Pat Hickman is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Art and Art History, University of Hawaii, where she taught for sixteen years. Her studio is now at the Garner Arts and Industrial Center, Garnerville, NY and she lives nearby on the Lower Hudson River. Hickman’s work is in major collections, including the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, the Oakland Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Denver Art Museum, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, among others. In Hawaii, Hickman’s commission, Nets of Makali’i–Nets of the Pleiades, stands as monumental entrance gates for the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. Hickman twice received NEA Individual Artist’s Grants. In 2005, she was elected a Fellow of the American Craft Council, and she served as President of the Textile Society of America (2008-2010). She continues to serve on the National Basketry Organization Board. Hickman curated two traveling exhibits: Innerskins/Outerskins: Gut and Fishskin (1987) and Baskets: Redefining Volume and Meaning (1993).
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