Destructive Beauty

Hammonds’ wasteland/wonderland’ explores value of possessions

Hollis Hammonds exhibition "wasteland/wonderland" is on display at the Dishman Art Museum through March 6.

Hollis Hammonds exhibition “wasteland/wonderland” is on display at the Dishman Art Museum through March 6.

Consumer culture in America is a wonderland; there are always new, shiny things to buy to assert one’s individuality. However, the flip side to this constant consumption is accumulation and even waste.

Hollis Hammonds’ show “wasteland/ wonderland,” on view at the Dishman Art Museum, asks spectators to reconsider the objects we amass after they are transformed by disaster. The show features not just drawings, but also an installation and video projection.

"Tall Stack" by Hollis Hammonds.

“Tall Stack” by Hollis Hammonds.

“I believe that the experience of my work is more satisfying in multiple forms and dimensions,” Hammonds said. “I tend to decide what medium, size, and technique I will use based foremost on the ideas I hope to express. Most of my drawings are rendered in either ink or charcoal, but I work at all scales and in a variety of styles, from illustrative and detailed drawings to more expressive and gestural ones.”

The artist became transfixed by the power of natural disasters after a fire burned down her family home in Kentucky when she was 15-years old. Many of her drawings deal with this theme, such as 2015’s “Smoke House Night-Time” and “Smoke-House Daytime,” where billows of smoke plume from burning houses. Other drawings, like “Salvaged: Big Catch” (2014) address the material objects left behind and piled up after such disasters.

Hammonds said that she often wonders how families deal with the loss of their possessions following some sort of natural disaster.

The focal point of the exhibition is an installation piece made from pieces of an original installation in Women and their Work — an Austin gallery — as well as found objects from Beaumont.

The roof of the installed house is blown off and a tornado funnels from inside the house to the ceiling. Wooden curlicues spiral around hundreds of threads holding dilapidated furniture, wicker baskets and lamps. Hidden in the tornado is a video projector which illuminates a drawing behind it with beautiful, but destructive, smoke clouds.

"Smoke House Day and Night Time," by Hollis Hammonds.

“Smoke House Day and Night Time,” by Hollis Hammonds.

“The video projection on the drawing is an expressive work, engaging the viewer to feel the turmoil and drama of the burning house,” Hammonds said. “The sculptural installations engage the viewer in another way, through tactile interaction. I simply like to engage the viewer through a variety of forms.”

“I like the playfulness I find in illustrating my ideas in a variety of materials. There are unique problems to solve with each type of media.”

On the wall adjacent to the video project, a huge drawing shows trees jutting outwards from a littered forest floor. The large scale of this piece puts the viewer face-to-face with debris, discarded objects and other trash. Although it is a work of imagination, the implications of accumulation are very much grounded in reality.

House on Fire" by Hollis Hammonds.

House on Fire” by Hollis Hammonds.

Hammonds’ visual art is not just about recounting the memory of a house fire, but also tells a story. Her current project that she is working on during a residency in Charlotte, N.C., combines her great drawing skills with storytelling to produce a memoir style comic.

“In my work for exhibitions, I have always been interested in narrative and storytelling. Sometimes the story is told through the installation, sometimes in multiple images, sometimes using words,” she said. “The graphic novel project, although slightly outside of my traditional studio practice, seems a perfect fit for my interest in storytelling and personal narratives.”

A reception will held Feb. 5, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The show is on view until March 6.a

The Dishman Art Museum is located on the Lamar University campus at 1030 E. Lavaca St. in Beaumont.

By Caitlin Duerler, ISSUE Staff Writer

An interior view of the site-specific installation that is part of Hollis Hammonds' "wasteland/wonderland" on display at the Dishman Art Museum through March 6.

An interior view of the site-specific installation that is part of Hollis Hammonds’ “wasteland/wonderland” on display at the Dishman Art Museum through March 6.

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