Interview: Hilary White Discusses Her New Sculptural Works for “Ingress Egress”

by Nathan SpoorPosted on

Multimedia artist Hilary White (covered here) creates vividly colorful sculptural works that delve into the symbolic, the altered, and the literal exploration of the “now” within the framework of time. White has an upcoming two-person exhibit with Hannah Stouffer, whom she originally found out about through social media. White found that Stouffer’s range of material and aesthetic to be something she immediately connected with, and set in motion the beginnings of what would eventually become the exhibit titled “Ingress Egress” which opens July 24th at Paradigm Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. According to White, the title concepts of Ingress and Egress both translate with dual meanings. “Ingress” would be a point of access, or a planet moving into a specified point in the galaxy. While “Egress” is a point of departure, as well as another word for emersion: the reappearance of a celestial body following an eclipse. We were invited into White’s final days of prep before the exhibit opens this week for an exclusive visit, as well as a first peek at the new works.

HF: For those of us that don’t know the two of you all-too-well, please tell us where your studios are and how did your paths originally cross?

HW: I recently move to Gainesville, Florida from Philadelphia; although I’m often back and forth between the two. Both communities are important to me as an artist as well as personally. I originally found out about Hannah and her work through social media. Her range of material and her aesthetic is something I could immediately connect with as a maker. I also became increasingly interested in collaborating with another artist and Hannah just really stuck out to me as a person that would be good to connect with. I think I originally emailed her in January with a message titled “reaching out” and we began talking about the possibility of collaborating in the future.

HF: Who came up for the idea of the two of you to show together, and how long has this exhibit been in the works?

HW: After emailing Hannah, actually a couple months later, I thought a show would be a good way for us to get to know each other and combine our work and ideas into one space. I ran it by Sara McCorriston at Paradigm Gallery, who thought it was a great idea and gave us the green light to begin working towards Ingress/Egress.

HF: What does the title or concept of ‘Ingress Egress’ mean to you, and how does that affect or begin to address your art?

HW: “Ingress” and “Egress” both translate with dual meanings. Ingress being a point of access, or a planet moving into a specified point in the galaxy. Egress is a point of departure or another word for “emersion” which is the reappearance of a celestial body after an eclipse in astronomy. At the time Hannah and I were discussing the show my personal work seemed to be leaning towards gathering points or destinations, like mountains and gates. The work I do delves into the symbolic, the altered, and the literal exploration of the “now” within the framework of time and more specifically faith within that framework. Time and the unknown seem to be intertwined within the cosmos (alignment of galaxies, eclipsing and reappearing of planets, stars). Communities both past and present have used the cosmos for the purpose of time and worship.

HF: What would the actual point of access be for the viewer from your thought process?

HW: Points of access or departure as in the definition of Ingress/Egress I could see emerging in what I was studying in terms of Biblical symbolism and theology. This lead me to the “mountain” as a symbols and a place of sacrifice, where God meets with people, and the gate not only being a point of access but being representative of the community itself within the city walls in the context of old and new testaments. Both involve an arriving and a departure from what one may expect of the natural word and the spiritual and oneself. Loss and gain involved in a symbiotic state of becoming more. This idea really further accentuated the act of collaborating on this show with Hannah. Letting the space in between both of us be a gathering place to mix objective and subjective approaches to creating in differing ways to produce this show together.

HF: Since you’re dealing with such vast concepts, do you think of your art in terms of just one piece or as a part of a series when you begin a new work?

HW: When I begin a new piece its premise for being created is based on a desire to further investigate a specific topic and how that topic further relates to myself personally and the community the piece will potentially be experienced within. I find that I work primarily in series because it allows me meditate on a specific idea and that this meditative act of making then creates branches into related ideas in different fields of research and living. I’m being humbled and learning constantly while I make. When all the pieces of a series are in a space together for me personally it’s like that eureka moment. I can finally see what the work is pointing towards. At the end of the day I really enjoy building, I love investigating materials, but the idea behind the work for me is what really gives making its purpose.

HF: With all the activity in the world with murals, there is much attention to scale being a topic for artists to address. Do you think in terms of scale when beginning new works? Are there any plans to go large either to promote this exhibit or in the future?

HW: It’s been interesting for me to create work for this show. I really attempted to experiment for these new pieces with material and scale. My initial instinct is to go big. I love creating big sprawling pieces, the physicality of it and the immersion it creates for the viewer. I’m learning that scale is just as much a part of the piece, and sometimes “big” is not needed. Just like sometime I don’t use certain colors or materials if they don’t work cohesively together. The new work in Ingress/ Egress is smaller because I wanted to attempt to create moments of visual navigation, where the point is to really be still, and let the eye drift through the texture, shape, color and materiality of the piece. Sometimes that process is lost in bigger work where exploration happens in a much more physical way. I will continue to create both smaller and larger works depending on what the piece may need. Right now in between making the pieces for this show I have been working towards completing an installation for the summer of 2016. That project has been a huge experiment and I’m excited to see its completion and share it with others. I’m still working on location details but my plan is to show it in multiple venues through the summer months.

HF: Do you have any insights that you’ve picked up that you would care to share with the up-and-coming artists out there?

HW: Do not focus on how much you think you know about a particular subject matter or skill set instead focus on what you aim to learn from the creative process. Being constantly humbled by the act of making, putting oneself in a position of wonder. That’s what successful art does—it challenges you, even to fail.

HF: Your latest exhibition “Ingress Egress” is a two-person show with Hannah Stouffer at Paradigm Gallery. You mentioned that you are also working on a large installation for next year, yet we are curious if you have other projects on the horizon – any cool news to let us in on?

HW: I‘m focusing on finishing up The Twelve Gate series. One of these works will be available at Moen Mason Gallery in the fall. I will be displaying work at Art Basel Miami with Paradigm Gallery in December. These are the immediate shows I have confirmation on. News on the installation in progress and where the rest of “The Twelve Gates” series can be seen will be posted on my website in the future.

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