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Powerful Mixed-Media Carvings Speak to the Experiences of Black Womanhood

LaToya Hobbs - Carving a New Tradition

LaToya Hobbs. “Erin and Anyah with Hydrangeas,” 2023. Acrylic and collage on carved wood panel; 48 x 60 in. (Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Ariston Jacks)

Baltimore-based artist LaToya Hobbs is presenting a series of recent woodblock prints and mixed-media portraits at Nashville's Frist Art Museum. The powerful pieces demonstrate how Hobbs deftly merges her printmaking and painting practices to create work that speaks to Black womanhood, family, labor, and self-care.

Often using her friends and family as models, much of her work starts via collaborative photography sessions with her husband Ariston Jacks. From there, Hobbs begins carving and pushes the boundaries of what we know about printmaking. Not only does she create traditional woodblock prints produced by running a carved matrix through a printing press, but the painted matrixes also become stand-alone mixed-media pieces that incorporate collage. In this way, she elevates a material often left in the artist's studio to high art.

For her exhibition at Frist Art Museum, which opens January 26, 2024, Hobbs will display some of her recent artwork. This includes her monumental work Carving Out Time, making its debut loan after being acquired by the Baltimore Museum of Art. These carved cherrywood panels are life-size scenes that follow the artist on her daily routine as a woman, mother, wife, and artist. Along the walls of the domestic spaces, Hobbs depicts work by renowned African-American artists like Kerry James Marshall and Alma Thomas. This is only the second time that the large installation will be shown in its entirety.

Standing alongside these scenes are intimate portraits such as Erin and Anyah with Hydrangeas. The mixed-media work depicts the artist's stepdaughter and niece against lush foliage in the background. The patterned background shows Hobbs' prowess for creating texture in her work, as well as symbolizing her own growth as an artist.

“Throughout her practice, Hobbs charts a new course in which depictions of the Black family, Black women, Black rest, and Black creative labor are recognized, celebrated, and elevated. In both form and content, Hobbs carves a new tradition,” shares guest curator Dr. Rebecca VanDiver, associate professor of African-American art at Vanderbilt University.

Carving a New Tradition: The Art of LaToya Hobbs will be on view at Frist Art Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, from January 26, 2024 to April 28, 2024.

Artist LaToya Hobbs merges her printmaking and painting practices to create powerful mixed-media pieces.

LaToya Hobbs - Carving a New Tradition

LaToya Hobbs. “Unbothered,” 2023. Woodcut on Rieves BFK cotton paper; 24 x 32 1/4 in. (Courtesy of the artist)

A selection of her recent work will go on display at Nashville's Frist Art Museum starting in early 2024.

LaToya Hobbs - Carving a New Tradition

LaToya M. Hobbs. “Flourish,” 2023. Acrylic on carved wood panel; 96 x 96 x 2 1/2 in. (Courtesy of the artist)

This includes a complete installation of her monumental work Carving Out Time, which is on loan from the Baltimore Museum of Art.

LaToya Hobbs - Carving a New Tradition

LaToya Hobbs. “Carving Out Time (detail),” 2020–21. Oil-based printing ink and acrylic paint on 15 carved cherry plywood panels; 96 x 720 in. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Anonymous Gift; and Art Fund established with exchange funds from gifts of Dr. and Mrs. Edgar F. Berman, Equitable Bank, N.A., Geoffrey Gates, Sandra O. Moose, National Endowment for the Arts, Lawrence Rubin, Philip M. Stern, and Alan J. Zakon; BMA 2022.11. (Image courtesy of The Baltimore Museum of Art)

Hobbs uses her personal experiences to speak to Black womanhood, family, labor, and self-care.

LaToya Hobbs - Carving a New Tradition

Latoya M. Hobbs. “In need of rest,” 2023. Woodcut; 14 1/2 x 33 in. (Courtesy of the artist)

Carving a New Tradition: The Art of LaToya Hobbs will run from January 26, 2024 to April 28, 2024.

LaToya Hobbs - Carving a New Tradition

LaToya M. Hobbs. “A Moment of Care,” 2023. Woodcut; 32 1/4 x 24 in. (Courtesy of the artist)

LaToya Hobbs: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by the Frist Art Museum.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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