Derek Eller Gallery presents a solo exhibition by Jessica Jackson Hutchins entitled Kitchen Table Allegory. Using materials such as papier-mâché, glitter, paper pulp, hand-made ceramics, photographs both found and taken, fragments of her family’s clothing, and furniture from her home, Hutchins imparts a mythic yet highly personal story. It is a story that touches on universal themes of frailty and compassion, unicorns and angels, the majesty of mountains and the beauty of nature’s minutiae. At the same time, Hutchins’ story is concerned with existence on a more personal scale: marriage and motherhood, the rituals of daily life, and making art.
These abstract narratives within Hutchins’ work are perhaps best exemplified in the show’s title piece, a large wooden dining table, the surface of which shows the residue of colored inks and the gouged-out tracks of a router. The table has been pulled apart, and in the center, where a leaf might be placed, is a large ceramic pot. Before arriving in her studio, this table was a fixture in her home, a focal point for gathering with family. And before it was disassembled and fitted with the ceramic, it functioned as a surface for making colorful, collaged monoprints, several of which are displayed throughout the gallery. From well-used domestic furniture to art-making vehicle and finally to work of art itself, the table slips seamlessly from one iteration to the next and back again.
Another large sculpture entitled Couple incorporates a worn loveseat which has been covered by two spray-painted papier-mâché mounds; a ceramic vessel is perfectly nestled between the mounds. The work could be described alternatively as: a mountain range dappled by purple light, a woman’s breasts cradling a precious infant, or a couple groping one another on a couch. A similar formal multiplicity can be found in the chair-like Recliner and in True Love Forever. Both works have surfaces collaged with magazine images of scenic countrysides and gem-like flowers and niches which support richly glazed ceramic vessels; they are at once bodies and landscapes and furniture.
Hutchins makes the most of the unique qualities of ceramics in several anthropomorphic works. A work entitled Indefinite Break (Tiger Woods) is comprised of two parts: a glazed trophy-like vessel balanced on top of a torso form which is raw and exposed in several spots and nearly bisected by a snaking crack down the front of it. As such, Hutchins portrays the tragedy of a fallen hero. Another piece entitled Wedding Section echoes the mounds of Couple with its two heads balancing an upside down vase between them, and perhaps references the delicate precariousness of marriage.
Jessica Jackson Hutchins will be included in 2010: The Whitney Biennial and was recently featured in Dirt on Delight which traveled to the ICA Philadelphia and The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. She will also have a solo show at Laurel Gitlen (Small A Projects) on the Lower East Side which runs February 20-March 28, 2010. Hutchins lives and works in Portland, Oregon. This will be her fourth solo exhibition at the gallery.