of the wild
January 16, 1998
has more than 20 large oil paintings and an assortment of watercolors,
pastels, and prints currently on exhibition at the Douglas Arts Common
(formerly the Paradis Arts Gallery) in which we can readily see her
attempts "to make sense of the world." There is nothing dreary in her
canvases, even the gray rocks in Mt. Monadnock and Break seem to glow
from within. Her colors are warm and inviting. Her brushwork, often
likened to van Gogh's, is far less frenetic but retains a vitality that
carries us from one place to another within each composition. And her
subjects are readily recognizable, even though they are personal impressions
rather than accurate representations.
studio is a tiny widow's watch perched atop her house in Warren, Rhode
Island, and though she can see forever in all directions, she constantly
feels the need to be directly immersed in her natural surroundings in
order to fully capture its essence. The sounds and smells, as well as
the sights that Hodge experiences on her daily run along a bike path
through the nearby salt marshes bring added emotion to her large canvas
Disappearance of Light. As a great oval sunset of yellows and white
radiates low on the horizon, the forest of reeds appears to shield other
living things while it reaches for the darkening purple-blue sky.
salt marshes also figure prominently in Hodge's Elements of Winter series.
Five large canvases present the season awash in brilliant light. Bright
blue-white snow covers vast areas of the marshes, disguising some typical
features while boldly building new forms as in Seek. Rather than cold
and hostile, Hodge shows us that winter can be sunny and inviting. For
added mystery and enjoyment, she has bordered each of these works with
cast-resin frames embedded with actual sea shells, feathers, fish skeletons,
and beach stones.
become one with nature, Hodge has taken advantage of a little-known
program of artist residencies offered by the National Park Service.
Living alone on a mountain range or in a shack in the sand dunes for
two weeks can do wonders for one's perception of nature. Taking snapshots
and making quick sketches, Hodge later transforms these into larger
works like her Cannon Mountain, in which the passive mountain plays
a lesser role than do the taut tree limbs, luminous vegetation, and
energetic clouds. Curiously, this painting bears a strong relationship
to a rare watercolor painted by Albrecht Durer in 1503. In The Great
Piece of Turf, Durer reveals the wonders of an ordinary patch of weeds
with this ground-level close-up of dandelions and field grasses shooting
skyward from the damp earth. Although Hodge was not aware of this particular
work, her painting has the similar aspect of presenting the subject
matter as if it were being seen for the first time.
It is just
this quality of wonder that makes Hodge's work so interesting and accessible.
Along with her interest in physics and the chaos theory, which suggests
that everything is intertwined in evolving patterns, she also believes
that "art is a common subliminal bridge for people'' and that shapes
and colors communicate in a manner that everyone can understand. As
you slowly peruse her colorful paintings, let Hodge's forms, lines,
and broad spectrum palette sweep you into her landscapes. Let them talk
to you about things far greater than the actual sites. Let them remind
you of the essential elements of nature, the ones that Hodge relies
on to complete her paintings: earth, air, water, and even fire -- the
light from within.