When I moved from Vermont to New York City, I had to do a lot of reconciling internally and visually to make sense of the contrast between the wider sky, rolling hills, and natural color of Vermont and the grit and grunge of Brooklyn. I don’t know that I found New York that charming initially. It was a complicated web of systems that I didn’t yet understand.
The longer I was there, and the longer I was at art school, the more my aesthetic matured and the more I understood the structures of the city. In my twenties I travelled to Italy and somehow that made both Vermont and New York make sense. There I found these old but structured towns that each had character. They had some of the speed and intensity that I had experienced in New York but they also had the character I experienced in Vermont. I started seeing circles everywhere on this one particular trip -- the halos behind the saints, on the Madonna and child, the dish drying mats, the tickets.
When I got back to art school, I started playing around with that form. What started as a formal grid that I worked on with gouache evolved into a mapping of barren trees and branches. It was simultaneously nature and city -- like looking at a map of roadways but also charting the visual landscape of cold New England.
Up until that point, I didn't feel any real affinity for one particular material over another. But during a residency in Maine, I discovered walnut ink. I made it for the first time with my mother and grandmother using walnuts from grandma’s yard, and finally I felt the connection to the materials that I had been looking for. The versatility and compact-nature of the ink worked really well for my lifestyle: I could have it in a teeny apartment in New York; I could work a little bit at a time; it could travel with me. It was inexpensive and lasted a long time.
The format in which I worked kept increasing in size, while the marks I was making kept decreasing. In a city as busy as New York with limited space, the paintings became abstract representations of spaciousness -- born from a desire to create more space.
After I moved to LA, I didn’t feel compelled to make spacious drawings anymore. There was so much space here that I didn't understand, so I went back to the circular form. It served to contain, to nest, to make a home in this place.
I began working on unfinished paintings from New York. The way that ink bled when it was rehydrated by a second layer shifted my mark-making strategies and created a new visual vocabulary that I continue to explore.
Los Angeles, CA
A B O U T T H E W O R K
My drawings and sculptures are constellations of sorts. Each piece is a collection of marks inspired by a pattern in nature -- a stain found, or a mark observed in daily life - on the sidewalk, the surface of a leaf, or in the night sky. I believe there is beauty and mystery in these intimate details that adorn our world, for they are evidence of the passing of time and the richness of experience. I create each painting with a collection of small brushes and handmade ink. My hope is that these paintings offer others a sense of nourishment, calm, and inspiration.
G R O U P E X H I B I T I O N S
2017 Open Studio, Culver City, CA
2016 Open Studio, Culver City, CA
2016 Celestial, Culver City, CA
2015 Absence of Sound, Culver City, CA
2013 Pieces of Cloud, Silver Music, NY, NY
2013 Open Studio, 218 East 11th, NY, NY
2012 Constellations, Silver Music, NY, NY
2012 Paper and Clay, Clayworks On Colombia, Brooklyn, NY
2011 Miniature Gallery, Art 101, Brooklyn, NY
2010 Open Studio, 135 Plymouth, NY
2002 Open Studio, Bayard Street Studios, NY
2001 Tracing Time, Corpus Christi Church, NY
1999 Sleep Wrinkles, Pratt Gallery, NY
P E R S O N A L C O L L E C T I O N S
New York City and Los Angeles
R E S I D E N C Y F E L L O W S H I P S
2009 Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, ME
1997 The Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT
all images copyright naomi hudson-knapp.