Jane Fox Hipple

Jane Fox Hipple (b. 1981, Springfield, PA) lives and works in New Jersey. Most recently her works have been presented by the MOUNTAIN Brooklyn, NY, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, The Fuel and Lumber Company in Birmingham, AL and by SpeciesATL at Bodega Gallery, New York, NY.  Solo exhibitions of her work have been held at DODGEgallery New York, NY (2011/12/13), COOP Gallery Nashville, TN (2013), and Artspace Raleigh, NC (2014). Her work has been included in numerous other exhibitions through the US including, LMP Projects Denver, CO, Saltworks, Atlanta, GA, Sardine Brooklyn, NY, Samson Boston, MA and Rebekah Templeton Contemoporary Art, Philadelphia, PA. She has participated in residency programs at Ragdale Foundation (2011), Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, and the Vermont Studio Center (2007). She has an MFA from Tulane University (2008) and BFA from Washington University in St. Louis (2004). Her work has been reviewed by Artforum, Artforum.com, Burnaway, Whitehot Magazine, New American Paintings, and Two Coats of Paint. 

I collect personal artifacts that have a vulnerable, corporeal presence for my mixed media assemblages. The objects I collect fall into two categories: those that once heldor covered a human body (an infant’s receiving blanket, an old bath towel, clothing, a dismantled chair) and those that possess a figurative quality all their own. These materials intervene in what otherwise appear to be exercises in contemporary abstract painting. Some objects retain a trace of the original human touch or utilitarian function, whereas others are so smeared with paint, dirt and hair that their origin is maskedduring the creative process. All are pushed in the direction of bodily mimesis through considered assemblage, the creationof orifice-like holes and phallic protrusions, andby layering and staining with fleshy-colored paint.

Pressing sensual evocations of the body onto and into already suggestive forms results in the matter-of-fact delivery of psychosexual content. A shared animism reverberates amongst works, which in the aggregate form a cast of characters with distinctive personae. Existing as part object and part sculpture, these works resist both the modernist agenda to celebrate form over content, and the post-modernist's championing of the reverse. Rather, they operate in the realm of the “formless” coagulating out ofboth mind and body. Regular signifiers in my work include holes, worn fabrics, impaled surfaces, and paint the color of bruised and/or interior flesh. Nudging works in the direction of bodily mimesis while retaining a sense of found object-ness disrupts idealized notions about domesticity and femininity. By reclaiming the the banal objectsof my life as a stay at home mother and using them to create icons of the female form I process the complicated relationship I have towards the maternal role, privilege and domestic space.

What is (Again) uses an old railway tie as a plinth, implicating the chain gang system used throughout the South from the Reconstruction Era into the 1950s. This showcases a sensually-shaped rock painted a sickly pink. The somewhat repulsive erotic charge of this object is meant to challenge the myth of the pure white female, a mythology thathas inspired innumerable acts of terror throughout the South’s history, including the present moment. Argument through its eyeholes and vagina tear are a nod to the Duchamp's Étant donnés but in my work the feminine form IS the blockade, assertive and forceful rather than a vulnerable display, in other words the balance of power has shifted. In the work "site" an irony brown mass and frame are shackled to the space.  The negative space inside the small frame is that of a nipple and breast. The "purity" of the pristine gallery becomes the white breast created by the brown body- an allegory on privilege and an unresolved past.

Q&A with Jane Fox Hipple

Questions by Jo Megas

Hi Jane! Could you give us some insight to your process?
Stain, mix, combine, cut, fold, tear, impale, discard, abandon, hold on to, paint over, repurpose, mull over, take a picture, instagram, put aside, store or regurgitate.

Do you typically construct your pieces horizontally (on the ground or on a table) or vertically (directly on the wall?
On the ground while I sit on a paint can. I use a low coffee table and a cart to hold supplies.

Do the personal objects that you use in your collages typically come from the same sources? Do you know the previous owners of the objects?
The objects most often come from my own life or are interesting pieces of garbage I find on the side of the road while walking my dog.

How much of the object’s past life do you feel like is retained in your pieces?
I like the sense of these works being part object/part sculpture, to borrow Helen Molesworth’s apt phrase. I suppose it varies from work to work but if I find a moment when something is itself and can signify something else at the same time I am psyched. For example, I once found a piece of concrete in my backyard while I was living in Alabama. In the center was an indentation from someone’s thumb. When I painted the artifact with a ruddy pink, the dent translated as a belly button, becoming a beautiful meditation on time/corporeality.

Your pieces are often torn or penetrated. The dark purples of your surfaces are reminiscent of bruises. How do you feel like this invocation of violence relates to your complex relationship with domesticity and femininity?
I’m looking for what matches my experience. Life is violent, and I’m less so referring to on the physical plane. The violence of thought patterns and in relationships—big and small—are everywhere and it would seem wild to make work about anything else given that fact. But somehow in making these weird things that embody that dynamic I’m seeking a shift. These are not an objectified/victimized depictions, rather they are matter-of-fact evocations of power struggles—which is why they can be viewed as humorous, because the truth told unabashedly can be funny. Take the work Argument which is my argument with myself over whether to love or hate Etannes Donnes. I grew up outside of Philadelphia and was lucky to have parents take me to the PMA on a regular basis. The first time I went to the Duchamp wing and approached the big doors with the eyeholes I had to be given a boost because I was too little to reach. And for anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure, you see a naked female body laying in some grass, and she has a very confusing gaping vag which is pretty much the only thing I remembered besides the two eyeholes. But really what more did I need to know as a young girl of 12 or so?   One of the things that Etanne Donnes does that makes it so great is that it can only be viewed one at a time and if/when you are standing there viewing you are self-consciously aware of someone else seeing you in the act of looking. In Argument, a purply pink stained fabric is stretched loosely over a frame and is at once the barrier with two eyeholes, and, thanks to a vaginal tear at the bottom of the rectangle, also represents a female part.  So when I talk about a power shift I’m think about restructuring dynamics of power by collapsing subject and object. This painting thing shirks the desire to see something naughty because the eyeholes don’t go anywhere, while the “something to see” is in fact at the fore, making it no such much naughty as benign.

Do you prefer to work in a certain scale? How do you feel that effects your work’s memetic qualities, in relation to the body?
The scale of the every day objects that I paint on are what dictate the scale of the works, for the most part. Because they are things of a human scale, handled and worn, they operate like tools, and of course, artworks are tools for getting at ideas.

Where do you find color inspiration?
I think of bodies, and their internal colors, like the inside of an eyelid, an armpit, scrotum, or beneath the skin.

The titles of your pieces are all lower case. What effect do you hope or anticipate that will have on the viewer?
Its true that many are lower case. As much as the work is about a bodily experience it also has a strong connection to psychology and language. Most of my titles are one or two words, and because they are often lower case, could easily have been snatched from the middle of a sentence or lengthier thought. In part this is an analogy for how an individual work relates to the aggregate, which is the real “work”. 

What is a work of art that you found compelling that you have seen recently?|
Ginny Casey’s paintings that are currently on display at the ICA in Philadelphia are superb. They are subversive yet friendly. I found myself drawn close trying to unravel the logic of mark and color and also locked in to a somatic queasiness as the perspectives of tables and chairs wonk in and out.  Plus there are fragments of bodies and sharp tools in the imagery so how could I not love it.

Was there a residency that you attended that majorly impacted your work? What about that time influenced the direction of your art?
I went to Skowhegan in 2009 shortly after finishing graduate school. I would say that it was more of graduate school experience than the time I spent at Tulane, which was in fact more like a residency. I made a fresco while there and it opened my eyes to how constipated I had become in my studio practice (at the time I only made paintings). The thing about fresco is that you watch and feel the pigment fuse with the surface before ones eyes. That and I met Steve Locke, who was a dean there. He and I have been sharing ideas and work with each other for many years now and that has been a huge influence.

What is a typical day in your studio like?
For now the studio has to adapt to the demands of regular life. So when able I go to the backyard and shut everything out for 2–4 hours.

Do you have to be in a particular headspace to work?
No. I work when I can. The work provides the headspace.

If you’re working on a piece, what does your studio sound like? Do you prefer silence, music, or podcasts?
There is a refrigerator hum and usually someone mowing a lawn. No self selected sound.

Do you have any news, shows, or residencies coming up?
I will be participating in a group show this July at yours mine & ours in New York. I notice they are into lower cases too, must be what the all the awesome people are doing!

Thank you so much for sharing your work and talking with us!

To find out more about Jane and her work, check out her website.