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.