Jim Hodges’ Give More Than You Take at the Walker is a Must See

Before I go further, let’s get the recommendation out of the way. If you have a chance to see the Jim Hodges retrospective, “Give More Than You Take,” currently at the Walker Art Center, just go. It’s awesome. That’s all I’ll say about that but not really.

Spanning more than 25 years and consisting of 75 pieces, the gallery takes the viewer through a journey filled with sheet music, light, chain link spider webs, fabric, scent, drawing, glass and more. It’s a delight to stroll through the man’s life and work, to see the themes life and death, sickness, love, and wonder weave their way through various pieces, all well executed and emotionally captivating. I mean it. Go.

Visitors of the Walker should already be familiar with Hodges, as his is the most recent work to be added to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Untitled is four boulders, millions of years old, draped in colorful metals. Though it’s still a bit cold out to visit them.

Inside the center, however, his life unfolds.

One of the most impressive, in both size, impact and volume of work, is a new piece that debuted with this show, “Untitled (one day it all comes true),” a mural made of pieces of found, donated and used denim in many shades. Each piece was cut by hand and sewed together to create the enormous artwork that fills a room. Like much of his work, it exudes a sense of light, wonder, nature and power. The enormity of the work has a gut-level impact as you turn the corner into the room and face it, like driving around a corner into a glorious sunset. The white denim even seems to emit its own radiance.


Jim Hodges, Walker Art Center

Jim Hodges, Untitled (One Day It All Comes True), Give More Than You Take, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis


This work aligns well with other labor-intensive pieces in the exhibit such as “Untitled (It’s already happened),” one of his cut photograph works, this one in particular of some trees with the leaves cut out in such a way that the white paper is revealed. The photograph has become a three-dimensional sculpture almost mimicking the autumn fall of leaves. If you can, stop reading this and just go.

Jim Hodges, Walker Art Center

Jim Hodges, Untitled (It’s Already Happened), Give More Than You Take, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis


Many of his works showcase an attention to craft and dedication to detail – often sewing together hundreds of pieces to create a larger work (which some say was a minor way of declaring his sexual orientation by doing “women’s work”), or taking common objects and manipulating them into new life.

On the other end of such deftly sentimental and beautiful pieces is “The Dark Gate.” This room-within-a-room installation has the viewer enter a blacked-out space through saloon-style doors into a wooden enclosure. A bare light bulb illuminates the space, but one wall is made of metal blades arranged to create a circular hole. Walk around the box into the dark room, and you see others in the box, lit up, from your pitch dark hiding place. It’s definitely an installation that changes dramatically depending on your viewpoint – inside or outside the box. When you are outside, you want to make more noise than usual so those people will know you are out there in the dark. The room is scented with the perfume of Hodge’s mother mixed with his own cologne he often wore at the time she died. Without even the sense memory associated with such scents, the room is overwhelming with forgotten moments of dread from the past that you can’t quite grasp and want to run away.


Jim Hodges, Walker Art Center

Jim Hodges, The Dark Gate, Give More Than You Take, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis


Time is also an element often referenced in these pieces. On the floor of one room lies a set of clothes with a chain link spider web hovering over it – a reference to a suicide from the artist’s past perhaps, with the present only showing evidence of a person through once used clothing. In another room, two interlinking circles adorn one wall. The circles are made fresh for each exhibition by Hodges. One represents him, and the other represents whoever he is with at the time – he does this by making the circles correspond to their heights and his partner picks the color that will represent himself. This makes each new creation tied to both the present and indirectly to the different presentations that must have taken place in the past. Speaking of time, why aren’t you there right now, looking at this yourself?


Jim Hodges, Walker Art Center

Jim Hodges, What’s Left, Give More Than You Take, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis


The way I see it, “Give More Than You Take” is about love. Love throughout a life, of mother, of lovers, of friends, of nature and more – all in ways that will make you feel better about the state of life in general for having seen it.


Related exhibits at:

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, June 5 – Sept. 1, 2014
UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Oct. 5, 2014 – Jan. 17, 2015

Jim Hodges, Walker Art Center

Jim Hodges, Ghost, Give More Than You Take, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Discussion Un commento

  1. April 15, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    […] on the blog lately with the things we’ve been to – the orchestra, Sharon Jones, and an art review on the Jim Hodges exhibit that’s on Droste Effect. Becky and I have had one of those […]

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