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installation view of Suzanne Hodges paintings

Suzanne Hodges

Circles and squares

by Lindsey-Jean Hard

From the April, 2018 issue

Some ingredients stand alone perfectly well, but when they come together, something truly special happens. Think peanut butter and jelly, chocolate and mint. The same thing can happen with art. Sarah Innes has curated just such a complementary collection at the Ann Arbor District Library's downtown branch, featuring pieces from two different Suzanne Hodges series: one full of geometric works that explore abstract space, the other a response to her move from the city to the suburbs.

At first glance, walking into the light-drenched atrium, you might think Hodges' works are oil paintings--vibrant, colorful, and full of energy. Step closer, and you'll see that they're painted canvas collages. Hung simply, with large clips against black backgrounds, some of the works gently curl toward you; others sway slightly when you walk past. The modern, color-blocked pieces become softer and more nuanced as you approach: Individual elements are imperfectly layered to reveal slivers of different colors beneath. Pencil guidelines become visible, as do lightly frayed edges. It feels like we're getting an intimate glimpse into Hodges' process. I found myself wondering if she, like me, has a dog-some of the pieces seemed to have collected the same stray hairs that my clothing does-but perhaps they were simply fibers that became trapped in the painting process. Either way, they lend an endearing, relatable layer to the pieces.

Hodges' work seems at home in the library's third-floor atrium, perhaps in part because she's a U-M grad-there always seems to be a special energy to an exhibit when the artist has a connection to the location where it's shown. Innes has arranged the pieces to mostly alternate back and forth between the two series. The first is laden with squares and rectangles--Hodges' "exploration into how color and value can create an inexhaustibly mysterious sense of space." The second, Around in Circles, Hodges' response to moving from Brooklyn to the suburbs of Denver at the age of eighty, hops from bold, boxy, and stationary pieces with a sense of confined and defined spaces to more rhythmic works with movement-laden circles, set in motion with tiny pieces reminiscent of a game board. Arresting, bold, and full of life, her work will be on display through April 14.     (end of article)

[Originally published in April, 2018.]


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