Problems in Living' engagingly shown
by Jerry Cullum
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
March 7, 2003
Dysfuntion Junction: Sarah Hobbs Translates
March 5, 2003
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Sarah Hobbs didn't go to Yale; her work just looks as if she
did, rather than the University of Georgia. The large-scale
photographs by this emerging Atlanta artist share the intelligence
and incisive wit of the theatricalized color images associated
with the Yale photography program.
In other words, her stuff's funny, smart and about serious subjects.
The seven works in this show deal in an exquisitely beautiful
way with psychological topics that could be the subject of heavy-handed
picture-making. Instead, Hobbs gives us something like elaborately
set up one-liners that linger in the mind because they contain
more than simple jokiness.
Perfectionist is the easiest. An old-fashioned desk, a ball
point pen next to a neat stack of sheets of paper, and a huge
pile of wadded-up balls of the same material convey a crisply
humorous allegory of a commonplace condition. The careful placement
of these few elements, and the meticulous attention to details
of light, makes an arresting and lasting work of art out of
an idea that easily could have been a glib cartoon.
The other photos in the series range from amusing to unnerving.
Indecisiveness is another formalist joke, a chair set in an
alcove in which the walls are completely papered with a rainbow
of colors from paint sample books. Obsessiveness is the flip
side of that idea, a room in which the walls have been painted
with melted chocolate, with the discarded wrappers of hundreds
of chocolate bars piled on the dropcloth.
Memory Loss is a little scarier: a bedroom filled with cloudy-looking
cotton or wool in which random names and objects are enveloped,
barely visible in the engulfing murk. The remaining photographs
in the series likewise deal with characteristics ranging from
Vanity to Low Self-Esteem with varying degrees of success. All
are imaginative and well-composed; some are simply more obvious
Hobbs hasn't completely hit her stride; some of these works
seem a bit forced, but the overall effect is spectacularly impressive.
This is someone from whom much more will be expected, and one
hopes she can keep up the pace without losing the lightness
of touch that makes this work successful. It's all too easy
to fall prey to ponderousness, but Hobbs seems capable of continuing
to deal with potentially distressing themes in a style that
makes them palatable.