The Frist Art Museum presents Carving a New Tradition: The Art of LaToya M. Hobbs, an exhibition of recent woodblock prints and mixed-media portraits from the Arkansas-born, Baltimore-based painter and printmaker. Organized by the Frist Art Museum with Dr. Rebecca VanDiver, associate professor of African American art at Vanderbilt University, the exhibition will be on view in the Frist’s Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery from January 26 through April 28, 2024.
In her practice, LaToya M. Hobbs explores Black womanhood, family, labor, self-care, and the rich traditions of printmaking while pushing the medium’s boundaries. She often uses herself, her family, and friends as subjects in her work to draw attention to the power of representation and legacy.
“Though I’m presenting the work through the lens of my own experience, I champion the everyday woman while addressing the themes of motherhood, family, and the connection one has to the physical spaces they occupy,” Hobbs said.
Much of Hobbs’s art begins with photographs of her subjects, many made during collaborative photoshoots with her husband Ariston Jacks. After a multistep preparatory process, she begins carving and painting.
“Hobbs favors relief printmaking, in which one carves away material from a surface to create an image,” VanDiver said.
Hobbs goes further, noting that, “the act of carving and its removal of material carries symbolic meaning related to the carving away of negativity and stereotypes needed to reveal the real version of oneself.”
In traditional printmaking, an artist carves the matrix—the printing surface—leaving a raised image. Ink is then applied to the matrix, paper is pressed to its surface, and then the paper and matrix are run through a printing press to create a print.
“While Hobbs does create traditional woodblock prints, she also carves a new tradition by displaying the painted print matrixes themselves as finished art objects,” VanDiver said.