Long appreciated as an abstract figurative and landscape painter, School of Art + Art History (SA+AH) alumna Margaret Schnebly Hodge (BFA ‘76) has traveled a long and interesting journey from the painting studios of the University of Florida (UF) to the variety of new artwork presented in her exhibition Breaking Free: Dark Energy, Dark Matter.
Opening this week at the Thrasher-Horne Center for Art in Orange Park, Florida, Hodge’s exhibition explores a philosophical preoccupation with concepts of physical and emotional restraint, confinement and strive for a sense of freedom.
Her featured paintings in Breaking Free take on a cosmic theme with their dark rich palettes and other-worldly titles, such as Dark Energy and Stellar Nurseries.
Renowned Florida art historian and UF alumnus Gary R. Libby while describing Hodge’s newest artwork said:
“The qualities of light in a dynamic cosmos, the existence of supernovas, the qualities of dark stars, dark matter, dark energy, baryonic clouds of matter and ideas about anti-matter all seem to find a place in Hodge’s richly painted visions of a beautiful and powerful apocalypse on the heels of contemporary science’s early penetration into the mysteries of creation and destruction in our universe. In many ways Hodge’s new work artistically begins to bridge important elements of this new science with the eternal beauty and mystery of the Heavens.”
Yet, her artwork has not always looked towards the skies and sciences.
Born in Daytona Beach, Florida, Hodge discovered her love for reading and expressing herself through artwork while growing up. She transferred these loves into her college education beginning at Daytona State College and eventually at the University of Florida, where she studied classical studio traditions and developed her distinctive style.
“When I was at the University of Florida, I began sketching figures in boxes, figures broken up by boxes,” said Hodge as she explained her deep interest in the energies of objects. Something about those images with their break up of figure and line fascinated Hodge and stuck with her.
As she continued to paint over the years, Hodge noticed more and more media related to outer space and energy. Peaking her interest, Hodge looked more into what she was seeing on the news causing her realize that her previous work was all about energy.
She explained that the figures in the boxes and the boxes themselves all had energy just as stars and supernovas have energy.
“Line and mark is energy,” said Hodge. “I wanted to perform energy on canvas.”
As the sixth showing of Breaking Free, Hodge is not sure what her next exhibition might be, but in the meantime she devoting time to her creative process working in her Ormond Beach studio.
Breaking Free: Dark Energy, Dark Matter runs from April 26 through June 20, 2017, at the Thrasher-Horne Center for Art in Orange Park, Florida. Visit the center’s website at thcenter.org for more information.
To learn more about Margaret Schnebly Hodge and her artwork, visit www.margarethodgeart.com.