By Jason Cobill
Originally hailing from small-town Newmarket, Ontario, uOttawa student Sarah Jasmine Hodgson has wasted no time entrenching herself in the local arts scene. With over 13 exhibitions under her belt since first stepping foot on campus five years ago, Sarah’s prolific output and unique blending of photography, sculpture, and experimental high-tech processes have produced a series of deeply affecting pieces that blend digital and real-world materials.
Her show this week at the University of Ottawa Gallery 115 is the latest example of her rare ability to make technology bow completely to her art. Hodgson’s projection piece “Digital Afterlife_b.1922_Opened File” is the result of a dizzyingly complex technological scanning process that gives the work the substance of a waking dream. Through a veil of mist, fragments of her 97-year-old grandmother’s keepsakes float in abstract perspectives, a way for Hodgson to immortalize the collections while evoking the distortions of memories over time. The works spill out of the projection as acrylic sculptures, like memories condensed into ghostly blobs.
“The projected video is an intimate time capsule that I made of the mementos my grandmother has collected over her life,” Hodgson says. “It is meant to preserve these objects for when she is gone but to also speak of the relationships people have to the things we collect. We hold memories in those collections.”
The eponymous work “It is she who lives in them” continues the theme of collections as memories. A silhouette of frosted glass hides a collection of found objects in this unconventional self-portrait of the artist. “This work continues the idea that we collect things as tools to better remember and understand ourselves,” Hodgson explains. “The objects that are used in the work are personal keepsakes that I have been collecting. I made a point of using the frosted glass to produce an ephemeral experience. The way the light interacts with the glass constantly changes how you see the sculpture as you are walking around it.”
Her untitled acrylic feet crawling the wall first made me feel the cold numbness of shoes ankle-deep in slush. I realized this could only be the work of an artist deeply scarred by last year’s unending trudge through Ottawa’s unplowed sidewalks. I asked Hodsgon about her long-term prospects and whether Ottawa might be growing on her.
“I love living in Ottawa, but it is difficult for young adults to find work as cultural workers and/or to also continue their artistic practice. Right now school, friends, and family are keeping me here. I wish there were more creative opportunities and youth that stayed in the city to pursue their art. I did a six-week residency at Archive Contemporary Art Gallery in Montreal and produced work that was shown in a pop-up at the end of the residency. It was extremely beneficial, but I hated constantly travelling back and forth from Ottawa to Montreal.”
For at least the near future, Sarah Hodgson will continue to suffer our frozen sidewalks! You can catch her work curating two upcoming gallery shows in November, “MINDMATTER” and “In Proximity / À Proximité.”
It is she who lives in them by Sarah Jasmine Hodgson can be viewed at Gallery 115, 600 Cumberland Street, until October 25 at 4pm. Admission is free.