Thursday, July 25, 2024

LaToya Hobbs Emphasizes the Tactile in Her Laboriously Carved Portraits of Black Women

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#LaToya Hobbs #portraits #printmaking

a portrait of two young women wearing yellow printed dresses, one is resting her head on the other's shoulder. puffy white flowers are in the background

“Erin and Anyah with Hydrangeas” (2023), acrylic and collage on carved wood panel, 48 x 60 inches. Photo by Ariston Jacks. All images © LaToya Hobbs, courtesy of the artist and Frist Art Museum, shared with permission

The belief that rest is a fundamental human right grounds the works of LaToya Hobbs, a Baltimore-based artist who carves stylized woodblocks of Black women. Often using her family, friends, and self as subjects, Hobbs creates densely textured prints and paintings depicting quiet moments of affection and connection.

In “Erin and Anyah with Hydrangeas,” two young women—Hobbs’ stepdaughter and niece originally photographed by the artist’s husband Ariston Jacks—look directly at the viewer. One rests her head on the other’s shoulder, with puffy white flowers decorating the pinstriped backdrop. In “Flourish,” a thriving snake plant and anthurium frame the room and subject, who sits comfortably on a chair and peers out the window.

a black and white print of a woman wearing a gown and lounging on a couch with pillows behind her

“Unbothered” (2023), woodcut on Rieves BFK cotton paper, 24 x 32 1/4 inches

Emphasizing the necessity of care for oneself and others, these portraits are included in Hobbs’ upcoming solo show at Frist Art Museum in Nashville. Opening early next year, Carving a New Tradition celebrates the artist’s significant contributions to printmaking and considers how her oeuvre amends the art historical canon. The show contains works on paper and painted carvings, along with interpretations of works by artists like Alma Thomas, Kerry James Marshall, and Elizabeth Catlett, who often depicted Black mothers with reverence and strength.

While Catlett tended to present her subjects working, Hobbs offers an alternate mode of being, instead focusing on rest and relaxation. “The act of carving and its removal of material carries symbolic meaning related to the carving away of negativity and stereotypes needed to reveal the real version of oneself,” she says. Gouged with impeccably thin lines and delicate crosshatching, the works evidence the artist’s laborious process and profound admiration for the tactile, in both the tangible, ridged properties of her carvings and the connections elicited by human touch.

Carving a New Tradition will run from January 26 to April 28. Until then, find more of Hobbs’ work on her site and Instagram.

a brown and black scene of a woman resting in a chair surrounded by plants and looking out the window

“Flourish” (2023), acrylic on carved wood panel, 96 x 96 x 2 1/2 inches

a print showing a family gathered around a dinner table with artworks in the background

Detail of “Carving Out Time” (2020–21), oil-based printing ink and acrylic paint on 15 carved cherry plywood panels; 96 x 720 inches. Image courtesy of The Baltimore Museum of Art

a triptych black and white woodcut of a woman seated or resting on a chair with her head on her arms

“In need of rest” (2023), woodcut, 4 1/2 x 33 inches

a brown and black woodcut of a woman holding a vessel with her eyes closed

“A Moment of Care” (2023), woodcut; 32 1/4 x 24 inches

#LaToya Hobbs #portraits #printmaking

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