Exhibition explores mixed heritage identity

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Part of Hodges’ installation. Photo: Helen Musa.

TUGGERANONG Arts Centre’s foyer gallery is a-glitter with colourful mixed-media works of Emma Rani Hodges, recipient of the centre’s 2019 Emerging Artist Support Scheme award. 

For Hodges, who completed her honours year in painting at the ANU School of Art and Design last year, the series is a symbolic space to explore her mixed-heritage identity.

Combining incongruous materials – painting, textiles and found materials – to challenge the view that individuals of mixed heritage are “caught between two worlds”, Hodges gives a personal account of growing up in Canberra.

Emma Rani Hodges “Close the door on your way out. The sky fills with smoke and I see double” 2020 mixed media, dimensions variable. Photo: Lachlan Richardson.

“Trapped within the boundaries of who we are, I started trying to expand my body and patch together a monster. I took the fabric you’d sew into dresses for more wealthy people and staple it to a different memory,” the artist says.

Visual arts program manager at the centre, Karena Keys, says the work draws on aspects of history left behind in the process of migration and is mostly constructed from fabric offcuts from her grandmother, who was a dressmaker in Thailand.

“Hodges’ paintings combine fragments of poetic text to describe her and her mother’s longing to rebuild connections to lost culture, language and place and include small cardboard shrines that mimic the Thai spirit houses built to maintain positive connections between the living and the dead,” Keys says.

Tuggeranong Art Centre until Friday, December 18. Public workshop, 11am-3pm, Saturday, October 31. Bookings essential.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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