The one-person show of artwork by Hilary White at Paradigm Gallery + Studio is like a transcendental trip to the spiritual world of totems, vibrations, dreams and prayers. The paintings are cut out wood panels, lucite and mixed media, layered to extend out from the wall into the third dimension. The scale is cosmic with flights of fancy mashed with metaphorical memes. DoN asked Hilary White how she creates the wood cut-outs and delicate detail?
“I cut everything out in my basement. If I had access to other tools I would definitely use them, but I think part of it is the hand done approach. I don’t know. The repetition is really relaxing for me, to be honest. So, I sort of enjoy that part. The shapes I cut out, some of them are pretty repetitious, so it’s a lot of the same movement over and over again. If you get up close you’ll see the edges that I can’t make perfect unfortunately.
I think I like the repetition because I used to be a cross country runner. And part of it is repetition. And for me it’s always been key. I think most people take comfort in that. The counting, the repetition, it’s comforting to know what you’re going to do next. I like it when the pieces are big because I don’t know what I’m going to do next.”
DoN wondered if the artwork is planned out in advance with drawings? How is the 3D effect achieved?
“When I make these, it starts with a drawing. But, it’s a concept drawing. The pieces themselves since I don’t know CAD, it’s really hard for me to imagine what they’re going to look like in the end. It’s really just me going out on a limb trying to figure out how to make them look how I envision them. The piece closest to the window actually looked completely different at different times. I took it apart because I was adding things that just didn’t look right. And now I’m happy with it. That’s part of the challenge, having that exact vision, but I don’t mind so much because the pieces I make will go on into something I make later.”
“Anything I make I think of it as language. Which is very personal. And I feel like going into one’s space is very personal. I majored in painting as a default because they didn’t have a sculpture major. I recently got a scholarship to go to the University of Florida, so I’m going to go there to get my Masters in sculpture. So, I’m excited. I wanted the work to be more architectural, I envision that one day people will be able to walk through these things. Really experience them in space.”
At the peak of the artist’s youth and vitality she was struck with a confounding illness, chronic fatigue syndrome. Hilary White shared what the experience of suddenly becoming disabled was like.
“It was like, the worst. For the last two years I’ve been slowly getting better. I still get like brain fog, even right now it’s like I’m not bad but I’m not 100%, like I used to be. But it’s getting better and better and better. It used to be I just couldn’t go out, I couldn’t go to openings. I didn’t want to talk about it to people, to be honest, because I felt, kind of, like, ashamed. It wasn’t how I used to be. You know?
I didn’t know how to explain it to people. And have them understand it. And I didn’t have the energy to explain. It was a lonely time and now coming out of it I’m able to be more open about it.”
“Before I got sick and went to the hospital, I had a night of hallucinations. Which sounds really weird. I was up all night. I thought I was, it’s really interesting, I thought I was living this. I haven’t really talked about this much with people. But. In this sort of vision, it was everybody from all walks of life and everybody was creating together. And it was just this amazing feeling. And it was just a beautiful, sort of, vision.
When coming out of it ,I felt so ill. That’s the day I went to the hospital, I walked there because I’d just never been before. We didn’t have health care. It was really a blow, like, what was all that? But it kind of gave me light, being in the hospital and not knowing what was wrong with me for so long. That and my faith in Christ, and wanting to share, I love that conversation. That’s kind of the driving force, just that vision I had and wanting to share that light.” – Hilary White
Hilary White, The Endless One, through June 22nd, 2013. “A new body of work by Philadelphia artist Hilary White. Works range from sculpture to painting, and often combine the two. Mediums include woodwork, acrylic sheet, oil paint,acrylic paint, and more. The subject matter is drawn from various aspects of faith, biblical text, science, and imaginings.” – Paradigm Gallery + Studio website.
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Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.
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