How did you get through the past year? If Jennefer Hoffmann’s solo show of recent ceramics at Volume Gallery in Chicago is any indication, rituals, body awareness, open water swimming, and the sky above—together and apart—helped her make it through to today. Daily casts of the artist’s little finger provide the primary sculptural element throughout: in variously glazed piles, they conjure a bird’s nest, a pile of turds, a tower of burnt newspapers. That seems about right for 2020-21. Unvarnished and laid out in rows on a table, the molds are a school of albino minnows, tiny missiles, the dead—anything but fingers, which is exactly how a digit feels after being plunged in wintry Lake Michigan. Other sculptures deal with the rest of the winter swimmer’s body, with wounded skin, grotesquely spot glazed, and hands that feel like stiff clubs. The picturesque gets a nod, too, in an unabashedly pretty clay image of the sunrise over dappled open waters. It’s been a long, hard year, with all panaceas welcome.
—Lori Waxman 2021-03-12 12:31 PM