Artist of the Month: Alex Hoffman

Artist+of+the+Month%3A+Alex+Hoffman

Hannah Liu

Artist of the Month: Alex Hoffman
by Hannah Liu
Senior Alex Hoffman is the April’s Artist of the Month because of her lifelong hobby for art and sculpting. She is unafraid to depict the natural beauty of women’s bodies and focuses on a message of acceptance.   
Q: What is your favorite part about pottery?
 
A: I think that a lot of artists think in 2D, in terms of drawing and painting on paper. I think more in 3D, so I’m more easily able to translate my ideas to sculpture. It’s the thing that I feel I’m best at, and it’s just relaxing and super satisfying to be able to create something that I’m proud of that is true to my inner workings of my mind.
 
Q: What has been your greatest achievement in sculpture?
 
A: In sophomore year I made these pear baby sculptures. It was the first thing that I made that people freaked out over and really liked, which was awesome. I’ve never had so many people freaking out over something that I did and asking to buy my work, so that was really cool. That was the first time that I was asked to commission pieces.
 
Q: What’s your thought process when you make something new?
 
A: It usually comes from like a really weird idea. I have a hard time just starting to work. I have to do a lot of thinking first, like touching clay, and some weird idea will come into my noggin. I’m really meticulous, but I tend to work in an unproductive fashion. I start off with a base and then work from there. I work on every piece with detail until I feel it’s perfect.
 
Q: What’s the piece you are working on now?
 
A: It’s weird. It’s a baby with boobs, who’s giving birth to a bunch of flowers and nature-y things. It’s based off of a photography project by an artist that I really like named Maise Cousins . It’s called what girls are made of, so I’m imagining a woman with insides made up of flowers and glitter and all these beautiful thing, which are pouring out of a plain fleshy sack.
 
Q: Are you going to continue doing pottery after you graduate?
 
A: Yeah, I’m going to art school I’m not sure what I’m going to major in. Sculpture is definitely a big part of my life, so I hope to continue on with it. I want to do claymation movies, so I might go into film animation and video.
 
Q: Who are your inspirations?
 
A: One of my biggest inspirations is probably Francesca Woodman, a self portrait photographer. She’s dead now, but she took all these photos of herself doing like strange things with her body She’s inspired me to make my work around my own body and to put more thought into my existence.
 
Q: How would you describe the theme of your pieces?
 
A: I think they’re very weird generally and kind of fantastical. They tend to have normal foundations, like people or houses. But then they have weird, magical twists on them.
 
Q: What would you say is the weirdest thing you’ve ever made?
 
A: I spent this summer at art school, and I was assigned a sculpture project where we had to make either an extension of the body or something that only made sense when activated by a body. I thought about the part of my body that I been like ridiculed for the most, and I ended up making super long, fluffy armpit hair extensions. It turned into a sexy self portrait photography project, which was cool because I had just wanted to make an image of body hair on a female body hair that was undeniably beautiful to everyone. It was weird though. Lots of uncomfortable glue and tape.
 
Q: What’s your favorite part of the process?
 
A: Watching other people be inspired. I’m often very critical of my work, and I’m very rarely satisfied or pleased with it. When I finish a piece that I don’t feel great about, and I see other people react to it with no inhibitions about it, it feels really good.
 
Q: Do you try to get a reaction out of people?
 
A: Yeah. Definitely. I mean, it depends on the piece, but that’s definitely my driving inspiration. As an artist, I do a lot of things for the purpose of garnering reactions and making people freak out. I have a small business laughs called Tiny Ginies, where I sculpt customizable vagina necklaces for people. When I put it on the internet, all these people started messaging me and freaking out over it. I like to make people think about things that they wouldn’t normally think about and do things that they wouldn’t normally do. I ship everywhere so hit me up for details if you want a customized vagina necklace.
 
Q: How have you changed as an artist over the years?
 
A: I’ve definitely become a lot more confident in my art and my abilities Art is more of a professional thing for me now–it’s my life. The fact that I’m going to art school makes it a lot more real. It’s not just a hobby anymore. It’s what I’m doing with my life, so I’ve definitely become a lot more serious and diligent about it. As I gain confidence, I push harder to astound people, in the sense that I shock people with weird things or things that make them uncomfortable. The more confident I get in myself, the more normal I feel making other people feel uncomfortable.
 
Q: Have any specific pieces made you grow a lot as an artist?
 
A: There’s one piece that’s really special to me. I was going through a very anxious, hard time in my life, and I was dealing with a bad relationship. One night, I woke up in the middle of the night and taped a big piece of paper to the wall. I painted all over the front of my body with black and red paint, and I made prints of my body. Afterwards I sat in a rocking chair, and I took pictures of myself with paint all over my body( of the prints on the wall and herself) became a piece about the impact of sexual assault on it’s victims. It was the first time that I used my body as a tool.
 
Q: What makes your piece unique from others?
 
A: I’m very honest in my pieces, and I do them for myself–I make what’s really going on in my mind. I don’t do it to impress anyone. My pieces are very weird, which is true to what actually goes on in my mind. I don’t hold anything back.
 
Q: You seem to focus a lot on body acceptance and being comfortable with who you are, Is that an idea that developed when you became an artist?
 
A: I’ve struggled a lot with body image my whole life: body dysphoria and general anxiety. There have been points when I hated my body, but art has made me realize nobody should ever feel that. I really want to convey to other people the importance of bodies, and how important it is to love yourself no matter what you look like.
 
Q: What’s the main message that you try to convey through your art?
 
A: It varies from piece to piece. One big thing that I want to show to people is that all bodies are important and beautiful. The biggest thing I want to show through my work is that there are so many different types of beauty. Not just in terms of people, but in terms of things. There’s just so much beauty in the world that people don’t recognize as beauty, and that’s what I want to recognize and bring to light. Certain projects make me feel really beautiful and sexy, and like I love myself and the way that I am–I don’t need approval from anyone else.