Monday, October 24, 2011

Mini-Interview with Hamlett Dobbins

A special thanks to Mr. Dobbins for taking the time to answer these questions. Be sure to visit his awesome  website here:

C.Y. How often do you research current exhibitions?

H.D. I am always looking at art, in magazines, and particularly online, I have probably forty or fifty art blogs that appear in my google reader and i look through those every day. when i find an artist i like i put them on my wish list of people to look into more later. i also travel as much as i can and always see art when i'm traveling. i also listen to my colleagues and my students and like to hear what they are looking at. I am always looking.

C.Y. What is your stance on artist statements? Are they important? Why or why not?
H.D. 90% of the time I don't look at them, I always look at the work first, if the work speaks to me and i want to know more, I read the statement but if the work doesn't do it, i don't read anything. I was jurying a student show last year and a person was there helping me and she asked "how do you judge this work without knowing anything about it?" and the simple answer is that you see a lot by looking. (that's yogi beara's line, not mine.) if something looks cruddy, and doesn't beg to be seen, i usually don't want to spend time with it. I think they are important, I think language is a way for some people to enter the work, it serves as bridge to help them get to the art. I think it's important to be able to articulate what you want your art to do, that way those people who are there to help you can assist you in reaching your goals.

C.Y. How often should we update our websites?
H.D.  You should update your website as often as possible, or whenever you feel like sharing your new work with people. Sometimes it is good to go into hiding, that way the work is really yours and you have a connection with it before putting it out there.

C.Y. How do you choose the artists that lecture at Rhodes College?
H.D. I always have the people who do shows give a lecture on their work, for the same reasons I mentioned above about the verbal serving as a bridge to the viewer. I also think lectures are really helpful to give insight into an artist's practice, you can cover fifty years in an hour, which you really can't do in a show. you can talk about the influences in new ways. it's a way to provide another way of thinking about your work or the work of others. that and there's a performative aspect to lectures that i usually like. I usually pick artists to show at Rhodes that wouldn't have an opportunity to show in Memphis otherwise. there are some exceptions but that's kind of my rule. the other rule is that the work has to benefit from the slow read. Our gallery isn't large, it's quite intimate. It's a pain in the neck to the gallery so I want to make it worth your while once you get there. I want you to be there for a while. That's what I usually shoot for in my shows at Rhodes. Other lecturers I pick because I think their voice will add something to the conversation of the community.

C.Y. How would you describe the perfect artist lecture?
H.D. the perfect artist's lecture would be funny and sad and insightful and sincere and honest and tell the viewer something that he/she didn't know about the artist's work before. I've seen hundreds of artists's lectures and the best ones are always the ones where you leave saying, "I can't believe how generous that guy/woman was in that talk." the best ones are giving.

C.Y. Has collaborating with other artists affected your style of art-making? If so, how?
H.D. My thoughts on collaboration are too long winded to get into in this email.  When I wrote the essay for a show of collaborative paintings done by TEAM SHaG at Rhodes.  You can read the essay here. Collaborating is such an important part of my studio practice, I can't imagine doing what I do without it.

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