A public garden & cultural center

Camille Hoffman

Pictured Above: Camille Hoffman’s work in progress for Here We Land, 2019. Photo credit: Daniel Krusen-Chen

Here We Land | April 14 - July 14, 2019

Camille Hoffman's mixed-media installation examines the notion of Manifest Destiny and its representation in the romantic American landscape. Taking inspiration from the narratives of her immigrant ancestors and those of immigrant families today, Hoffman creates complex, layered geographies as she considers the ways landscapes are internalized and experienced. In thinking about how borders exist inside and outside the body, and how bodies cross borders, Hoffman critiques colonialism and capitalism within the American value system, which historically has omitted the contributions of immigrants and indigenous peoples.

The title is inspired by America Is In The Heart, a semi-autobiographical novel written by Pilipinx-American immigrant writer and activist Carlos Bulosan about the life of Pilipinx migrant workers during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Hoffman’s installation is a reminder that “Americas” encompasses the entire continent of North, Central and South America, as well as all territories historically occupied by the United States, including the Philippines.

The expansive sunsets found within Hoffman’s installation and in her earlier painting Sunset for Fred Church, allude to the romanticized landscapes of historic Hudson River School painters Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church. Direct color references for the wall were taken from Bierstadt’s 1869 Emigrants Crossing the Plains

Utilizing nature as a metaphor, Hoffman relates the rhizomatic root system of the North American aspen tree to the human family unit. Connected beneath the earth, these ancestral roots form clonal colonies of trees that can grow miles apart, in both Mexico and the US. Hoffman considers the forced separation of families crossing the US/Mexico border, as well as of her estranged family members. To construct anthropomorphic landscapes, Hoffman creates silhouettes sourced from leaked photographs at the border, as well as from her family albums. Hoffman collages larger-than-life figures out of nature calendars and stock aspen-forest wallpapers. Spreading like rhizomes, the figures meld over the gallery’s Georgian Revival-style architecture, connecting with a sculptural knotted root-like system that emanates from the fireplace. Hoffman explains, “Considering the original function of Glyndor House as a family home, I reimagine this historically domestic space as one where seemingly exterior aspen forests can be intimately sheltered.”

Pictured: Camille Hoffman's Las Américas (en el hogar) / Americas (in the hearth), 2019, Acrylic paint, stock aspen forest vinyl ordered from Amazon, wood logs, excelsior anti-erosion blanket, wood chips. Work courtesy of the artist. Image: Stefan Hagen. 

Pictured: Camille Hoffman's Las Américas (en el hogar) / Americas (in the hearth), 2019. Image: Stefan Hagen.

Pictured: Camille Hoffman's Las Américas (en el hogar) / Americas (in the hearth), 2019. Image: Stefan Hagen. 

Winter Workspace | January 2 - February 12, 2018

Pictured Above: Camille Hoffman in her Winter Workspace studio. Courtesy of Wave Hill. 

Camille Hoffman's current work is a mixed-media meditation on Manifest Destiny and its representation in the romantic American landscape. Reflecting on the embedded and latent meanings around light, nature, the frontier, borders, race, gender and power in influential American landscape paintings of the 19th century, she uses materials collected from her everyday life, including holiday-themed tablecloths, discarded medical records, nature calendars, plastic bags and paint, to craft imaginary landscapes that are grounded in accumulation, personal narrative and historical critique. Her paintings are layered geographies, in which these fragments of cultural objects are chromatically twisted and blended into complex wholes. Taking inspiration from the Philippine weaving and the Jewish folk traditions of her ancestors, along with traditional landscape painting techniques from her academic training, she interweaves image with refuse in order to reveal seamless yet textured transcultural contradictions. Disrupting visual perception, her scraps of materials take on new life, becoming a vehicle of territorial reclamation and spiritual agency for the artist amid the pressures of economic and political globalization.

During the Winter Workspace, Hoffman drew inspiration from Wave Hill’s Hudson River site and worked from historical references related to the Hudson River School. Her large paintings explore alternative topographies through integrating material remnants of contemporary life and culture at and around Wave Hill. Hoffman's interest in this site’s proximity - both geographically and historically - to this art movement was also a point of research.

Pictured: Camille Hoffman's Sunset over Wave Hill, Oil, Disney “Fairies” tablecloth, nature calendars, Home Depot bag on wood frame. Made during the artist's Winter Workspace residency. Image: Stefan Hagen. 

Learn more about the artist here

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Michael J. Shannon; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.