New art at WSU Spokane emphasizes personal reflection, exploration, and life

SPOKANE – WSU Spokane and the Washington State Arts Commission (WSAC) are excited to announce the newest installation to the State Art Collection. A sculpture titled “alive lively living for Ramona Hodges” by native Spokane artist, Jim Hodges, was installed on the lawn east of the Nursing Building located on the Riverpoint Campus.
The dedication ceremony is scheduled for May 7, 2009 at 4:30 p.m. in the Nursing Building Courtyard at 103 E Spokane Falls Blvd.
The Campus Arts Committee selected Hodges from a roster of state-approved artists. His connection with the city of Spokane along with his experience in creating large pieces suitable for outdoor environments made him a natural choice. Additionally, the imagery and meaning behind Hodges’ piece and its ability to connect people with their environment made the artwork a perfect match for the Riverpoint Campus.
“His [Hodges’] work tells a story and facilitates interaction and contemplation by the viewer,” said Nancy Clark Brown, former chair of the Campus Arts Committee and a key figure in the selection and installation of Hodges’ work. “The piece that Jim has created for our campus is a beautiful combination of material and imagery.”
To create “alive lively living for Ramona Hodges,” Hodges dipped into his local roots. The piece is dedicated to his mother, Ramona D. Hodges, who passed away two years ago. Additionally, he cites his Shadle Park High School art teacher, Claudia Halseth, as one of his great influencers. Finally, memories of playing outside in the woods around Spokane inspired his vision.
“Nature has been an inspiration for me from the early days of hanging out in the woods around Spokane,” said Hodges. “I found my voice in the woods.”
“alive lively living for Ramona Hodges” consists of three stainless steel panels, each more than 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. They will sit on the lawn east of the Nursing Building and cover a plot of land about 10 feet wide and 8 feet long. Each panel features irregular edges on its top and sides, creating a camouflage-like pattern. The panels also feature different levels of polishing with areas of clear, mirror-like reflection along with areas of distortion. Cut-outs in the panels create a paradox of solid steel and open windows. All of these characteristics combine to form a stimulating, meaningful piece of art.
“The steel has multiple finishes and cutouts that are created in the spirit of camouflage, but because of the polished and mirror-like finishes of the steel, the viewers’ images of themselves are reflected in the piece as a part of their surroundings,” explains Clark Brown.
“It is an interactive composition that creates a dialogue between the landscape and the people, who can simultaneously look through the piece and see their reflection.”
The piece’s outdoor setting and distinct form provide an interesting fusion of man-made modernity and the natural environment.  Because of its unique properties and location, each person will experience the sculpture in a different way, opening the door for personal reflection and exploration. Additionally, the Campus Arts Committee believes that the piece will foster interaction between the campus community and the greater Spokane community.
“On the surface, the work offers an invitation to experience oneself in the landscape in multiple ways, both playful and surprising,” said Hodges. “’alive lively living for Ramona Hodges’ like its materials, is open, reflective, all encompassing, non-discriminative and equalizing.”
The Riverpoint Campus Arts Committee includes local artist Harold Balazs, Nancy Blossom, Elissa Nappa, Meaghan Beever, Merry Armstrong and Bruce Thompson.
Art in Public Places Program
Artwork acquired through Washington State’s Art in Public Places Program becomes part of the State Art Collection—a collection of over 4,500 works of art located at state agencies, public schools, and colleges and universities throughout the state. Established by legislation in 1974, the Washington State Arts Commission’s Art in Public Places Program is funded through the state’s capital construction budget. Each time a new state building is built, or when state funding for a building renovation on a college or university campus is over $200,000, one-half of one percent of the state portion of construction costs is used to acquire artwork. Following an established Art in Public Places process, community representatives develop criteria, select artists and review proposals for new artwork. Stewardship of the State Art Collection is shared by the Arts Commission and the agencies where artwork is sited.
About the Artist
Jim Hodges, a native of Spokane, received a B.F.A. in 1980 from Fort Wright College in Spokane, Wash. He then went on to receive his M.F.A. in 1986 from Pratt Institute, located in Brooklyn, New York. His career as an artist has spanned several different media, including paintings, printmaking, and drawings. However, Hodges is best known for his sculpture pieces, which emphasize transformation and reflection. Using unconventional material, such as decorative fabric flowers, napkins, and silver chains, Hodges’ works create a sense of whimsy and ephemeral beauty. His works have been featured in numerous solo museum exhibits, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and the Miami Museum of Art. Currently, Hodges lives and works in New York City.

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