Night Gallery is pleased to present The Find, a solo show of new paintings by the Nashville-based artist Jodi Hays. This is the artist's first exhibition with the gallery and in Los Angeles.
Jodi Hays’ work is located within the history of abstraction, but she came to it through figuration and the genre of landscape. Having grown up in “The South,” its geography, the complicated condition of living on and off of the land, screen doors, old boards and sign painting, textiles, and wallpaper has informed both the interiors and exteriors and boundaries in her work.
Hays’ interest is in rural culture and handiwork, and their associations with the body. In utilizing found materials, Hays’ collage-based painting becomes a solution for how these syntaxes and moves (squeegeeing paint, spraying, sewing, stenciling) can unify, forming a new or familiar but slant language.
In Hays’ words: “There is something improvisational in using materials that one finds in the periphery of a tradition, a convention, a history or a market. I also find the humility of materials deeply personal, and therefore political. Mining a ‘southern povera,’ my main habit in iconography is the grid that I ‘find’ in reclaimed textiles, fabric, and cardboard. These materials serve as stand-ins for the resourceful labor of women. I ask myself what it can mean to care for and remain attentive in life and in painting (and if these are the same thing), revealing how my core iconography elucidates a conversation on abstraction and a generative (familial, abundant) mark that is inexhaustible—like a mother.”
The grid provides an important tool and vehicle for abstraction throughout Hays’ practice, and language serves as a generative source as she consistently turns to the works of the late Arkansan poet C.D. Wright. Wright (who is most likely a distant cousin to Hays, also from the foothills of the Ozarks) wrote: “I’m fairly aware of the contractions in my work and personality. I’m country but sophisticated. I’m particular and concrete … but I’m probing another plane. There are many times when I want to hammer the head. Other times I want to sleep with the hammer.”
Hays’ work is research-based and titles have double meanings. They include formal considerations of materiality in high and low culture as well as modes of feminist making. Her paintings stem from her curiosity about the lines that separate what is protected from, what is feared, and how gendering plays into these expectations. Resourceful labor of women has traditionally included: finding, stacking, making, mending, wiping, affixing, sewing, lifting, rolling, patting, piecing, spreading, smoothing, feeding, pushing, covering and recovering. These acts are made visual in her work.
Text by Susan Sherrick.
Jodi Hays (b. 1976, Hot Springs, AR) has had recent solo exhibitions at Night Gallery, Los Angeles; University School of Nashville, TN; ZieherSmith, Nashville; Browsing Room, Nashville; Covenant College, Chattanooga; Lipscomb University, Nashville; and Sauvage Galerie, Nashville. She has participated in group shows at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln; Stand 4 Gallery, New York; Bridgette Mayer Gallery, Philadelphia; Stove Works Museum, Chattanooga; LABspace, Hillsdale; and 57W57 Arts, New York, among others. Her work belongs in the permanent collections of the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, Little Rock; Gordon College, Wenham; Music City Center, Nashville; Nashville International Airport, TN; Tennessee State Museum, Nashville; Frostic School of Art at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo; and Vanderbilt University, Nashville. Hays has been featured in several publications, including New American Paintings, Nashville Scene, Artforum, and New Art Examiner. In 2023, her work will be on view in a group exhibition at Frist Art Museum, Nashville. Hays lives and works in Nashville.