Brittany Ham: Unmooring
Jul 7–Sep 3, 2023
Brittany Ham’s exhibition of self-portraits explores interior and exterior space, architecturally and psychologically speaking. These oil paintings and charcoal drawings process the artist experiences with lockdown and social distancing compounding with the birth of a child and early motherhood. The longing subjects sometimes successfully escapes claustrophobia through invented landscapes. Ham’s new works also draw inspiration from a multitude of sculptures, woodcuts, and paintings of exhausted women and mothers, often the Virgin Mary, researched during her time at Künstlerhaus Bethanien International Studio Program as a grantee of Contemporary’s Berlin Residency Program. Ham’s use of line and value both flatten and round the figure, creating molded planes akin to looking at sculptures and shifting positions in the round. Ham’s somewhat cubist figuration gives us more dimension than the modernists and grants the viewer windows and portals between interior and exterior spaces. The curious contortions and collapsing of space and landscape imbue the works with melancholic humor, the kind we can access looking backwards at challenging times, or forwards when we don’t quite know what is beyond a horizon.