Ceramics major shares meaning, inspiration behind pieces

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Graduate student Alex Hodge works on one of her ceramic pieces. Hodge's art can be viewed at the 2016 Incoming Graduate Student Exhibition in Wynwood until Sept. 26. Amanda Prats // Contributing Photographer

Graduate student Alex Hodge works on one of her ceramic pieces. Hodge’s art can be viewed at the 2016 Incoming Graduate Student Exhibition in Wynwood until Sept. 26. Amanda Prats // Contributing Photographer

At 22 years old, Alex Hodge is one of UM’s youngest graduate art students. The ceramics major from Adel, Georgia, has an exhibit at the University of Miami Art Gallery in Wynwood that runs through Sept. 26. The Miami Hurricane sat down with Alex to talk about her art, history and future.

The Miami Hurricane: How did you decide to pursue ceramics?

Alex Hodge: I was majoring in art education, and ceramics was required as part of my degree at University of Georgia. I hated the Art Ed class, I dropped it in a month. But ceramics was challenging but also soothing, in a way. I’m okay at drawing but I feel like ceramics allows me to lose the perfectionism that is really intense for me when I’m drawing. I’m dealing with that now as I turn toward figurative work, wanting it to look real … but not pressuring myself for it to be perfect.

TMH: Why did you decide to come to Miami?

H: Coming from UGA [University of Georgia] and previously from a small town, having any access to museums or galleries was something that was really high on my list. I knew that I didn’t want to go as far as New York or California, so Miami was one of my top choices. I was also really interested in the faculty here. Plus, I like the beach!

TMH: What is your artistic style?

H: What’s in this show is a couple of large-scale pots that reference Greco-Roman pottery. I use this technique called graffito; I use a white clay painted black and then I carve into it. I was transitioning while I was making that work, and starting making these hand sculptures, applying the carving technique to the hands. I’m trying to figure out a way to work with the figure but do this technique I’m really interested in, so I’m kind of grappling with that.

I deal a lot with women’s issues and finding stories from history that have been forgotten or ignored and reintroducing them on my vessels or with my sculpture. One of the pieces in the show is about Lilith, and then another one has drawings of the goddess Astarte, whose main ideas are love, but also tenacity. The drawings are accompanied by maybe 100 names of transgender women who have been murdered in the past 20 years. I’m very interested in issues that are very political, but I also try to accompany that really tough stuff with something that’s beautiful.

TMH: Do you have a favorite piece?

H: All of them! I’m one of those artists who hoards everything they make. The piece about Lilith is one of my favorites, and then there’s a hand sculpture that hangs on the wall, which for me was a very personal piece. It goes toward this expression of emotion, this pain that I was feeling. Because it is so personal, I feel this connection to it.

TMH: Do you have any advice for other aspiring artists?

H: I think the biggest struggle is that we put all this pressure on ourselves. Personally, I have a lot of self-doubt, but you just have to push past that and say, “Even if this is crap, who cares? I’m going to do it anyway.” Even if you don’t like the piece, someone will like it and think it’s worth doing. So you just have to trust that you’re doing what you want or need to do.

Hodge’s work is on display at the 2016 Incoming Graduate Student Exhibition at the University of Miami Art Gallery at the Wynwood Building (2750 NW 3rd Ave., Suite 4) until Sept. 26. There is a special reception on Saturday, Sept. 10 from 4-10 p.m.

For more information on UM student art exhibitions, go to www.as.miami.edu/art.

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