The Cohen Gallery featured multiple exhibits concerning depictions of vulnerability from three artists, Lauren Gallaspy, Sara Parent-Ramos and Hollis Hammond. They were able to immortalize themes concerning weakness from within visual mediums including sculpture, ceramics and charcoal. These are fragile substances, and it is the exposed nature of these works of art that really drives home the concept of vulnerability.
Hollis created multiple charcoal drawings of ruined city-scapes. Her composition, ‘Smoke Rising’ is a very large work of art that shows the post-apocalyptic ruins of a flood. The manner in which the scene is constructed leaves the impression that the rubble has become a beach, with the smoke acting as the crashing waves in the background. By using charcoal in this piece, lines carry plenty of energy with them. As well, this is a conduit through which she can create interesting shifts of value. The smoke rising from the background adds movement in the work, as the viewer is led to travel across the image. In order to ensure the entire scene works as a coherent whole, rubble has been arranged with the goal of creating harmony, and as such nothing seems out of place.
Another one of her works, ‘Cascade’, pushes the concept of a water analogy even further. Junk and rubble flow downward to show how unimportant these supposably valuable objects truly are in the face of disaster. These works of art detail how vulnerable our creations are in the event of a disaster. The field of rubble appears as a pattern of material goods, while the circular shapes of the tires create motion. Furthermore, the vertical pattern of garbage comes with a striking usage of space to either side of it.
Similarly, her composition ‘In Ruins’ displays wires and garbage flowing over the ruins of a city. Her use of fine detail is striking to say the least, and portrays the concept of vulnerability further than any of her other creations due to the clear display of destruction. While her other works reference floods and disaster, this one goes beyond them to leave an unquestionable understanding of what is going on. All of these works are void of color, which is suitable for the dismal outlook they carry.
Hollis Hammond’s work in the ‘Windows of Vulnerability’ gallery chronicles both the lack of value within material objects during a disaster, as well as the way humans perceive these things when the world around them is relatively stable. When all is in order, common items are viewed as being far more important than they objectively are. We give them our unwavering attention, our time, our money, and we sometimes even name them, yet from the vantage point provided by Hollis Hammond’s art, we can clearly see their disposable disposition.
Hollis Hammond, ‘Smoke Rising’, 2012. Charcoal and Acrylic on Paper. Fosdick-Nelson Gallery.
Hollis Hammond, ‘Cascade’, 2014. Charcoal and Acrylic on Paper. Fosdick-Nelson Gallery.
Hollis Hammond, ‘In Ruins’, 2012. Charcoal on Paper. Fosdick-Nelson Gallery.