The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston presents Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take, the first comprehensive survey of American artist Jim Hodges (b. 1957), one of the most compelling sculpture and installation artists working today. This major, nationally traveling exhibition explores the trajectory of the artist’s career from 1987 through the present integrating sculpture, installation, photography, drawing, collage, and several room-size environments. Co-organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and the Dallas Museum of Art,Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take is coordinated for the ICA by Anna Stothart, Assistant Curator.
Born in Spokane, Washington, Jim Hodges has been based in New York City since the early 1980s, when he came to study painting at Pratt Institute. Eschewing the medium early on in his career, he evolved in the late 1980s and early 1990s the thoughtful, materials-based practice that characterizes his work to this day. Hodges’s work typically begins with humble, even overlooked materials—silk scarves and flowers, mirrors, light bulbs, glass, clothing, metal chains, decals, and sheet music—that he transforms through simple gestures or actions such as drawing, sewing, folding or unfolding, transferring, cutting, assembling, and unraveling. These acts of poetic reconsideration elevate his pieces to other levels of interpretation and meaning. The results are poignant sculptural meditations on life, love, loss, and a range of human experience.
Hodges came of age as an artist in the late 1980s and 90s, an intense period in American society marked by censorship, political conservatism, and the height of the AIDS crisis. Many of his early works, including A Diary of Flowers (1994), comprised of doodled coffeehouse napkins pinned to the wall, have been discussed and interpreted through the lens of loss and memorial that marked this moment. Indeed, Hodges is part of a generation of sculptors, including Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Robert Gober, Roni Horn, Kiki Smith, and Katharina Fritsch, who collectively ushered in a new visual language in the 1990s distinguished by generosity, metaphor, and restraint. This approach was in sharp contrast to the more acerbic, didactic language-based art that characterized the preceding decade.
Organizing curators Olga Viso, Executive Director of the Walker Art Center, and Jeffrey Grove, Senior Curator of Special Projects & Research at the Dallas Museum of Art, who both have long histories working with Jim Hodges, took inspiration from the artist when organizing the exhibition. Instead of displaying the work chronologically, they worked closely with Hodges to conceive a sequence of themed rooms that bring together a variety of artworks across media and time to elicit a range of impressive environments or experiences. The series of mirrored wall works titledMovements (2005–2009), for example, dapple brilliant reflected light, as well as the viewer’s own reflection, on the surrounding floors and walls. These works conjure feelings of lightness and dispersion in contrast to the dark, sensorial environment of the adjacent dark gate (2008), a rarely exhibited room-size installation that also engages the viewer’s sense of smell.
In addition to showcasing rarely seen works, including Untitled (Gate) (1991), and ghost (2008)—Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take debuts a new work made specifically for the exhibition. Untitled (one day it all comes true) (2013), an expansive wall tapestry that is one of the most labor-intensive and epic works by the artist to date, is comprised of thousands of individual pieces of denim in every shade of the material’s spectrum.