Permanent Collection Spotlight | Jane Hammond
BAM Permanent Collection Spotlight
Jane Hammond (American, born 1950)
The Soapstone Factory #5
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Jane Hammond, The Soapstone Factory #5, 1999, oil on canvas, 72″ x 88″ x 2″,
Gift of Gary, Melissa, Sarah, and David Lipton of Ketchum, Idaho, in memory of Leo and Luce Lipton,
Boise Art Museum Permanent Collection.
New York-based artist Jane Hammond is a self-described forager, collector, hoarder, and a “more-is-more person.” Her wit, unexpected juxtapositions, and recognizable iconography have defined her 40-year career and are visible across the artist’s diverse body of work, including painting, printmaking, photography, and mixed-media artwork .
Early in her career, Hammond amassed a collection of 276 found images that she photocopied from technical manuals, antique children’s books, handbooks on magic, and botanical guides. This visual collection became a fixed lexicon, or personal language, for the artist. She began using her image collection, in a collage-like manner, as building blocks to construct meaning—reusing, remixing, and recombining imagery in a process she refers to as “recombinant DNA.” By limiting herself to this set of imagery, she relies on the combinations and arrangements of these objects to create meaning and reveal narratives that are mysterious, witty, and nostalgic.
The title for The Soapstone Factory came from the mind of poet John Ashbery. In 1993, Hammond commissioned the poet to make a set of titles to use as inspiration for her paintings. Ashbery, whom Hammond admired for his playfulness, sent her 44 titles, including Bread and Butter Machine, A Parliament of Refrigerator Magnets, Do Husbands Matter?, Irregular Plural, and The Soapstone Factory. Over the course of eight years, this list of titles inspired 64 of her paintings.
The Soapstone Factory was one of the artist’s favorite titles, from which she made five paintings. Hammond found this title to be very rich, recalling memories of carving soft, white soapstone in her introductory sculpture course in college. She imagined a sculptor’s studio as a sort of factory with sculptures-in-process—an unfinished and messy space.
Each of the five The Soapstone Factory paintings is similarly set in a Renaissance-style room with a checkerboard floor and decorative arches, which creates a defined space to hold the objects together. Within this framework, Hammond created five distinct paintings, each filled with its own cast of combined imagery. Hammond’s juxtapositions are deliberate and meaningful to her, and she recognizes that the resulting narratives are developed in collaboration with the viewer. She intentionally gives the viewer space to enter the scene and create their own stories.
Jane Hammond describes her creative process and her fascination with collage and the recombination of images as she creates a series of original collaged monoprints at Pace Paper.
Jane Hammond was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1950. She studied biology, poetry, and art history at Mt. Holyoke College and ceramics at Arizona State University. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1977. She currently lives and works in New York City.