January 12 – March 26, 2015
Jeanine Hill presents various works including drawings, ceramics, and an installation. These works are inspired by the transformations of line into form, land into sky, and stars and planets into universes. This collection depicts a state of constant becoming.
The works that I am currently making are three-dimensional maps of the literal and metaphoric terrains that I have traveled. Within my work, form stands with purpose and content lies within the context of my life experiences. It is through the examination of personal history and the construction and reconstruction of this history’s landscape that I am able to decipher my own mysteries through the morphology of clay.
Jeanine Hill was born in Alcalde, New Mexico on a Pueblo reservation where she and her family were surrounded by vast orchards and high canyon walls. Her first exposure to the arts was early on when her father began taking photographs of the traditional Pueblo ceremonies by day and working with wood by night. She was taught the value of storytelling by her mother, who used words to shape the world. Jeanine’s own making and storytelling practices were forged out of hours of being lost in the woods of Vermont, and sharing stories with her siblings.
Q&A with Jeanine Hill
What is the main focus of inspiration for the pieces included in this exhibition?
I have spent the last two years working on the pieces for this show. In this time I have traveled quite a bit, and the extensive traveling has been an inspiration. But I would have to say that the greatest influence or inspiration for the work is the experience of landscape, the role it plays in our lives, and the way in which place enables us to not only understand who and where we are but also to navigate our world in a more grounded way.
How would you describe your creative process?
I usually work in shifts. Because my studio practice involves a wide variety of materials, I rarely work with multiple materials at the same time. Working this way allows me to deeply focus on the material at hand and the processes required. A year of my artistic life will often involve six to eight months of working in clay, three months of drawing, and perhaps a month or two working with textiles. That being said, there could be a year that doesn’t look like this at all and I spend the whole year throwing pots or drawing. It all depends on where I am emotionally and physically at the time.
Where did your initial attraction to examining your path in life as a visual record stem from?
I come from a long line of storytellers and within this history there are diverse ethnic backgrounds that come into play. Storytelling and the making of artwork have played a tremendous role in my family’s history. I think that coming from such a diverse background as I do, as well as all of the moving and traveling I have done in my life, have required me to be constantly reflective. The consistent examination of who I am as a human being allows who I am to remain in a state of constant flux, which I suppose in some ways allows the change to not be so difficult.
What message do you want to get across to viewers through your art?
I don’t know that there is a specific message I am hoping to get across. I simply hope that in the telling of my story, it enables the viewers to see their own story within the work as well, that perhaps my work is simply a window or door into their own lives.
What are some of your artistic influences?
I am drawn to well-crafted, process oriented work that shows the presence of the hand in the work. So within this realm I would say that one of my biggest influences is Lee Bontecou. As an artist she possesses a strong integrity to craft and content, and it shows in the work. I am also deeply influenced by the work of Georgia O’Keefe. I find it refreshing to look at works of art that speak of beauty. Lastly, I would have to say I am heavily inspired by Karen Karnes. Her later, more sculptural works possess a strong sense of the unknown, while still trying to name the mystery of existence through the use of the hands.
You describe your work as “relics of visually constructed memory.” What influence does this kind of recordkeeping have in your day-to-day life?
I believe strongly in the recording of life so I carry a pen and journal wherever I go. There is something deeply personal about writing down notes that document your life, not so much so that you can go back and read it but to simply become acquainted with pausing throughout your day to witness and reflect. By witnessing and reflecting on my life through the written work and other materials such as clay, I am able to put it outside of myself and move on.
Would you say you are striving to create a visual diary?
No, not a diary, a visual landscape yes. A few years back I read this amazing book called the “Anatomy of the Spirit.” In the book the author talks a lot about how our bodies become a biological landscape of both our physical and emotional lives and that everything we go through both physically and emotionally affects our physiology. In essence we become a walking landscape. When I think of the work I am making, I suppose I think of it in a similar way. It is a visual landscape of my work, and one piece could be based on one particular moment or nine years of my life.
What are some of the reactions you have received from people viewing your work?
I have heard from quite a few people that they see my work as being fairly poetic and quiet.
What is one thing you have learned about yourself as an artist in creating these works?
I have learned that it is helpful if I have time and space to slowly create the work, one piece after another. If I am able to sit with all of the work for a prolonged period, slowly, I am able to see how the pieces should fit together, who are the characters, and what the story is that needs to be told.
What kind of experiences do you draw from for inspiration?
I draw from all of my experiences, both the good and the bad. All of it is meaty and offers substance that can be used as inspiration.
How long did it take you to develop your own style?
I am still creating it.
Most of your ceramic pieces are rounded, organic and flowing shapes. Is there a specific meaning behind this?
I suppose when I think of the human body and the movement of landscapes, I think of soft, organic shapes.
Does your work on one project often lead to the inspiration of your next endeavor?
I do my best to not take too much down time in between projects, so the short answer is yes. But I would also like to believe that because it is my hand that is making the work, there will always be a consistent line of thought between the vast expanses.
Keep making, making, making. It is all in the work.
Questions by gallery intern Johanna Goggins.