“Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take” juxtaposes light and dark at the Walker Art Center


Within the first few steps into the Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take exhibit at the Walker Art Center, you’ll find yourself treading through an emotional nature scape—a place where a world of plants, animals and all of earths forces reach out to you in the hope that you will reach back.

Hodges’ work is a natural landscape of symbolism; stretching branches of trees and the radiation of light wrap metaphorical arms around you and pull you into its story. Hodges utilizes mixed media and found objects to formulate these landscapes and stories of loss, love and self-discovery—stories that are wildly universal and raw in their humanity. There is an element of dissection—Hodges is one of those artists who deconstructs his tools and reconstructs them so methodically that it creates a new map for viewing this creative landscape.

With this in mind, Hodges clearly isn’t a painter. There is an inherent rejection of painting within his work, but he engages his subjects in a painterly and illustrative manner. A gentle and ethereal hand gives the work a delicate femininity that feels warm and mindful; it’s compassionate, intimate and tells you that it’s safe to be open and to let what lies dormant inside out.

Aligned with this positivity are also many points of darkness that, instead of battling against the light, dance with it as another unifying force that is equally as reaching and communicative. Give More Than You Take offers pieces that memorialize friends and family who have passed on while also celebrating a life of transition and transformation. Being in the human body means that sometimes shit happens, but in Give More Than You Take every time shit happens, a kind hand reaches back to you that connects you to the human experiences of others, which then connects you back to yourself.

There is no compression within Hodges’ work. It expands the space it is in even if that space is very small (in the case of the piece “Ghost,” the smaller the space, the more expansive the concept). The expansion transcends the space, the nature of space and, at times, nature itself. Many of the works start off at an inward or central point and open out powerfully and quickly. Glass shatters outward from a central point, flowers bloom from inside out, light, sound, heat, scents and stars all start with a spark of energy and booms forth into a force of nature and evolves into its truest form—like a personal big bang of flower petals and sparkling silver supernovas.

Give More Than You Take largely retells a story of rebirth and transformation that culminates in a realization of the self. The endless journey through time, space, love, loss, dark and light is intertwined and continuous.