Kim Hutchinson, Olson-Larsen Gallery
July 20 - September 1, 2012
Review by guest contributors Leah Kalmanson & Christopher Chiavetta
July 26, 2012
We sat down to talk with Des Moines artist Kim Hutchinson, the night before the opening of her joint show at Olson-Larsen Gallery in Valley Junction. Kim’s past work has usually incorporated textiles, sometimes figuratively (as in a series of works exploring the form of women’s dresses) but more often abstractly. Kim uses swatches of cloth to establish planes of color on canvas, with attention focused on the patchwork stitching holding the compositions together. The cloth itself is a “found object”; Kim gathers her materials from estate sales, weekend yard sales, and secondhand markets. Her textile work takes what was once lost—an abandoned tablecloth, a discarded skirt—and reincorporates it into a narrative structure. The narratives, however, are ambiguous and ephemeral. She describes these textile paintings as telling tales “held together by loose threads; they could at any moment fall apart.”
Kim’s newer works, on display at Olson-Larsen until the beginning of September, feature paper: not only are many of the works on paper instead of canvas, but they also incorporate patches of paper assembled into rough collages. When we asked Kim about her transition from textiles to paper, she replied:
I had been experimenting. It felt liberating… . I wanted to see if I still had my own identity, without doing what I’d always done. When I’m sewing, I’m responding to the pieces that I find, and putting them back together in ways that make sense to me. With paper pieces, there’s more deconstruction—a lot of cutting up, tearing apart.
The patchwork element is still present in the paper pieces, although the threads or stitches are at times absent or not visible. The planes of color hang together, but appear to float or shift. For example, in Linear Destination, the yellow paint visible in the gaps between the pieces of the collage suggests a light or a space behind the composition, just out of the viewer’s sight:
Whereas Kim sees her earlier works as “personal,” in the sense that they speak to issues of human identity and the anonymous histories of other people, she notes that in the paper pieces she has more directly explored and expressed content from her own life. Works such as Together and On the Horizon are evocative of family and home life, while also suggesting transition, movement, and change.
[On the Horizon]
Overall, the show at Olson-Larsen features a cohesive body of work by an artist confident in both her vision and her media. In particular, the recurring triangular, pyramid-like structure that anchors many of the pieces speaks to the collection’s main themes: the monumental character of everyday life; the human legacies contained in discarded or lost materials; and the preservation of the past that becomes the foundation for future growth.
Leah Kalmanson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Drake University, where she teaches classes in aesthetics, continental philosophy, and East Asian religions. Website
Christopher Chiavetta is an artist living in Des Moines, originally from Rochester, New York.