Nathan Hodge’s work catches the your eye, reels you in, and holds you there. You can’t help but stop and stare at the mutated forms extending from one another, both grotesque and beautiful. Confronted by these images of mutation and deformity, you are forced to ask yourself what it means to stare and to be stared at.
We asked him a few questions about these unique subjects and the artistic process they grow from:
GOCA: Why do you choose to work in the materials/media you do?
Nathan: I have traditionally done a lot of pencil drawing. I think that the act of drawing is one of the most natural and intuitive forms of art making. We all do it from an early age and I even consider handwriting to be a form of drawing. The drawing implement itself differs from a paintbrush or other implement in that it is a solid and firm extension of the hand that transfers direct pressure to the surface. The paintbrush mediates this pressure(though slightly) by being soft and malleable, absorbing some of the pressure of the hand. This simple difference, to me, makes drawing a more direct transfer of energy and thought. The scratchiness and unfinished elements of drawings have a feeling of authenticity and honesty that I love. The sketchiness of even the most polished drawings betray the human hand.
GOCA: You’ve mentioned in a previous interview that you like creating visual illusions, and that through these illusions, you want to elicit the feeling of staring/being stared at. How do the subjects of mutation and disease relate to this feeling?
Nathan: Mutation in my drawings symbolize my own eccentricities and personal shortcomings and like most people, I try to hide these in my daily life. By making these drawings of mutated and diseased organic flesh, I am substantiating my own neurosis and laying them bare for all to see. The beings I create are reminiscent of the the freak-shows of the past. People who had some kind of physical deformation or mutation were put on display for public embarrassment and scientific scrutiny. I imagine how truly humiliating it is to be the subject of public scrutiny. Every person has some element or aspect of their lives that they want to keep private. But what would happen if these were made physical and couldn’t be hidden? In my view, mental states are physical states. Brains and neurons are physical structures, so a mental illness is literally a physical illness. This is the feeling I want people to experience. How would the viewer feel if their own physical or psychological difference became an object of public scrutiny?
GOCA: What art/artists have have caught your eye lately?
Nathan: I mostly like artists that work in totally different mediums than myself. Lately I have been into 3d artists like Roxy Paine, Tara Donovan, Ron Mueck, and Patricia Piccinnini to name a few. Anyone that approaches and creates art in a way that I feel like I can’t is fascinating to me.
GOCA: Would you like to experiment with other media/materials in future pieces?
Nathan: I do want to create more sculpture and installation art. I have worked in these mediums before, but I am still relatively new and have a lot to learn and discover.
Hodges was born in Blackfoot, Idaho, but spent most of his life in Colorado Springs and recently graduated from the Visual and Performing Arts program at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. His 3’x6’ prismacolor on toned paper work, “For All Intensive Porpoises”, was featured in the senior exhibition “Ways of Seeing”, presented by GOCA 1420 in April-May 2017.
About the Exhibition
Great Expectations @GOCA121, downtown
August 4 - November 11, 2017
Erica Day, Nathaniel Hodges, Stephanie Kantor, Suzie McMurtry, Diego Rodriguez-Warner, Elizabeth Selby, Frankie Toan, Streeter Wright, Ryan Wurst, Dustin Young
This biannual exhibition surveys emerging artists working along the Colorado Front Range corridor. Artists working in Colorado in 2017 are diverse and this exhibit at our downtown GOCA121 site aims to reflect that reality. The artists featured are working across a broad range of media - painting, drawing, sculptural installation, new media, and performance - and creating contemporary art in exciting and challenging ways. Great Expectations will introduce you to some of the brightest (art) stars from the Front Range of Colorado.