Though dedicated to abstraction, painter Pamela Smith Hudson’s layered compositions evoke the topography and emotion of the landscape. In a sense creating paintings about painting itself—the literal physicality of pigment, graphite, wax, printing, and collage; the body’s motions of repetition of gesture, accrual, and erasure—Hudson is also intentional in her relationships to place and experience. She is fueled by meditations on the creative matriarchal lineage of her family, considerations of the urban cacophony, beauty, and brutal failures of life across Los Angeles, and confrontation of the dangers of environmental degradation, resource exploitation, and climate change. Hudson’s navigation of the unseen forces that shape our world gives them forms, if not images, the embodies the energy patterns behind it all. Her new exhibition Empty Space is on view at Craig Krull Gallery in Santa Monica through March 25.
L.A. WEEKLY: When Did you first know you were an artist?
PAMELA SMITH HUDSON: When I started to create freely and become unaware of time. In the early 90’s I started to experiment by combining painting and printmaking and this was an important time for me to realize that I was developing my studio practice.
What is your short answer to people who ask what work is about?
My work combines printmaking, layers of paint, wax, and collage to build textured surfaces on panels, canvas, and paper. My art practice has and continues to reflect the internal and external pressures of living in my home city of Los Angeles.
What would you be doing if you were not an artist?
Librarian. In the late 90’s I got a job at Library Associates as a researcher and I was also trained to do cataloging. I loved it so much that I considered going back to school to get my MLIS degree to be a librarian.
Why do you live and work in L.A. and not elsewhere?
I was born and raised in L.A. I love the beaches, mountains, deserts, and the crazy. What keeps me here is my family and friends that are grounding and supportive.
When was your first show?
A group show at Molly Barnes Gallery on Melrose in 2016. Molly and I both taught classes at Otis Art and Design College and she has been a mentor and supportive figure in my career.
When is your current/most recent/next show or project?
Empty Space is my first solo show with Craig Krull Gallery at Bergamot Station; it’s open now through March 25, with an artist talk on Saturday, March 18, at 11 am. The body of work was made from the last two years through the pandemic going through the death of my brother and other family members. Empty Space refers to the vastness of the space we occupy.
What artist living or dead would you like to show or work with?
Living: Senga Nengudi, Maren Hassinger, George Herms, Judith Jamison, Cauleen Smith. Dead: Yves Klein, Lee Krasner, Jay Defeo, Vivienne Westwood, Martha Graham, Alice Coltrane.
Do you listen to music while you work?
Yes, and it greatly influences the outcome of my work. For the body of work for this current show I listened to Classic House Music, P-Funk, Elis Regina, Freddie Hubbard, ’80s & 90’s Hip Hop, Minutemen, Thee Oh Sees, The Pixies, Alice Coltrane, Brian Hudson, Aaron Hudson, and Greg Cashion.
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