ORANGE PARK – Margaret Schnebly Hodge imagines herself a particle floating through the universe, observing the swirling colors and lights of the cosmos. When she does this, the Ormond Beach-based …
ORANGE PARK – Margaret Schnebly Hodge imagines herself a particle floating through the universe, observing the swirling colors and lights of the cosmos. When she does this, the Ormond Beach-based artist is capable of venturing to places that no human being has ever travelled and sees unfathomable sights that exceed the beauty of landscapes here on Earth.
Hodge has used this mindset for the past seven years while creating her newest body of work “Dark Energy, Dark Matter.”
“A few years ago, I saw images from the Hubble Space Telescope in Daytona Beach,” Hodge said. “My intent was not to paint the Hubble images, but to feel like I was there. I am not a scientist at all, and I don’t claim to be. I am inspired by the natural phenomenon [of the cosmos].”
Now Hodge brings her body of work to Clay County’s Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts Galleries April 26 through June 20 on the campus of St. Johns River State College.
“I really think art is inherent in my person,” Hodges said. “I was born with it and I have slowly come to acknowledge how important it is over time.”
Hodge has worked the more commercial side of art, creating realistic images with the goal of selling paintings, but there was a point in her career when she decided to paint less for her audience and more for herself.
“Landscape is just an image that you know thoroughly at a moment’s glance,” Hodge said. “If you’re an artist, you’ve got to find your own way.”
After this realization, her work has changed drastically. She began experimenting with more abstract painting, moving away from form and figures, and then she discovered those Hubble images and finally found her voice, creating, for the first time, a unified body of work that represents what she considers her true artistic voice.
“I am interested in painting in a way that will create energy on the wall,” Hodge said. “I had never really done a theme show, so I took a challenge and did multiple paintings with a singular topic.”
As she completes these multi-step paintings, she noted that there is a natural birth and death process that takes place. While adding multiple layers of paint with rags, sponges, brushes and her hands, some paint gets covered up, or “dies” in her words, while the paint on the top is experiencing its “birth.” The thin coats go on first, followed by progressively thicker coats to the point of becoming almost three-dimensional textures near the last layers of paint that go onto the canvas. As viewers walk by her finished paintings she hopes that some parts of the painting seem to live, while other parts have died.
“In this work, there is a natural movement forward from the beginning to the end, every painting is a process of life and death,” Hodge said. “When you paint like this it’s always a learning process.”
The Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts Galleries are open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., with admission free to the public. Following her show at Thrasher-Horne, Hodge will wrap up a multiple-stop tour of the Northeast and central parts of the state with this exhibit and head back to the studio.
“There are times I get intense and my husband says ‘You need to paint,” Hodges said. “I need to spend more time in the studio just painting. [Painting] is my lifeline, I would say it is what keeps me sane.”