in the Valerie HammondSeries of Wax drawingsThe protection is twofold: the artist (previously) wraps dried flowers and ferns in a thin layer of wax and preserves their fragile fabric long after they have been torn off the ground. By sketching a pair of hands, she also secures a memory, or rather, “the essence of a gesture and the fleeting moment in which it was made”.
The ongoing series focuses on limbs lying flat on Japanese paper and goes back to the 1990s when Hammond first made the first record, “in part in response to the death of a dear friend whose beautiful hands I often remembered” . She continued to work with family and friends, mostly women and children, to delineate her wrists, palms, and fingers. Today the series includes dozens of works, made up of either hands tied to the dried botany sprouting outward in wispy tendrils, or others covered with threads and glass beads.
Although the delicate pieces started out as a simple trace, Hammond shares that she soon began to overlay the original drawing with pressed flowers, creating encaustic assemblages that “mirrored the body’s bones, veins, and circulatory systems.” She continued to experiment with the series by introducing various techniques including printmaking, Xerox transfers, and eventually Photoshop inversions, which distorted the original rendering and changed her practice. Hammond explains:
The works suddenly inhabited a space I was looking for and spanned the indefinable boundary between presence and absence, material and immaterial, conscious and unconscious. For me they became symbols not only for the people whose hands I had traced, but also for my own developing artistic process – a testimony to the passage of time and the silent dissolution of memory.
Hammond’s work was recently included in a group exhibition at Leila Heller Gallery. Your practice spans multiple mediums, including collages, drawings, and sculptures, all of which you can explore her side and Instagram.
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