HARVARD — Artist Linda Hoffman has composed her life and art in words, cloth, wood and bronze. These years have been spent interweaving her thoughts and visions into unique one-of-a kind homages to the images and materials she finds within her world.
In 1981 Linda moved to Groton as she was beginning to create cloth-covered panels based on her poems. These were a reflection of the two years she spent training in dance movements in the Noh Theater in Kyoto, Japan. While there she learned by mimicking her teacher and it wasn’t until she returned home and began working on her art, did she realized how much she had been influenced by her time and experiences in Japan.
A poignant, spare, and naturalist Japanese aesthetic has infused much of her work since her time there and Linda has come to understand that even before her time in Japan she was already attracted to the Japanese traits known as Wabi-sabi.
Wabi-sabi is a concept derived from Buddhist teachings and embodies a Japanese worldview. Wabi characteristics relate to emptiness, impermanence, and loneliness, such as lone objects or people. Sabi refers to objects that show the well-worn affects of age. Both wabi and sabi are important elements in all the traditional art forms of Japan.
A deep reverence for natural elements and nature, coupled with what she saw as the accelerated loss of New England farmland and open spaces, caused her to collect and utilize old farm and agricultural tools within in her art. Her decade-long involvement with Groton’s Friend’s of Trees led her to collect and work with wood from dead trees.
In 1998, Linda made four series of sculptures and poems using old tools, one of each series is a part of her current Conant Gallery exhibit. The series are entitled; “Agricultural Tool Series,” “Fragments of The Heart,” “Stations of The Heart,” and a “Circus Comes To Fruitlands,” which represents the 26 outdoor circus sculptures she created for the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard.
A decade ago Linda moved to Old Frog Pond Farm in Harvard. Here she tends her organic garden, works on her art and breathes in the freshness of the air and life around her.
In 2004, Linda visited the Himalayan country of Bhutan. In the town of Paro she discovered a traditional arts-and-crafts school and saw students making small clay figurines. These diminutive yet expressive figurines included mystical gods and creatures from Buddhism.
She was again deeply impressed by all she saw, and arriving home she began to craft small figures from clay. A sculptor friend, Nancy Schon, suggested that she wax them and cast them in bronze. This was a revelation in her art and work and she began to soften the wax with a hot light bulb and placed her small people on stone or found objects. She quickly mastered each aspect of working with these figures and incorporating them into expressive vignettes. By constant experimentation she developed a unique way of aging the wax figures so their patina was one of age, roughness and worn; here was the Wabi-sabi aesthetics in its perfect form.
From Linda: “Right now in my studio my focus is on wheels and flywheels, barn door rollers, and round castings – all of which have figures circulating, climbing, hanging, or exploring. My advice to fellow art students: follow what you love; what moves you; what connects you physically, emotionally and spiritually in this amazing world.”
In January, Hoffman’s work will be on display at the Groton Library. See images of her work and the list of galleries where it can be viewed. Learn more about her art, books and farm at www.lindahoffman.com.