New England by Train
By Noelani Kirschner
June 4, 2018
Born and raised in Rhode Island, Kathy Hodge has lived in Providence for most of her life. After getting her undergraduate degree in painting, she moved home and began to paint landscapes and cityscapes of her beloved city. Here, she discusses her series, “Providence to NYC,” and why she gravitates toward industrial residue as opposed to polished facades.
“When I got out of school and moved back to Providence, I became interested in the waterfront. The city was kind of dying out, after its heyday as a place to shop and do business. It was still gritty, and they were just starting to think about redesigning it. They ended up redesigning the river; it wasn’t paved over but there were big, wide bridges over the river, and it was covered by infrastructure. So, they uncovered them and put a walkway along the banks. But I liked the city before it was pretty. It’s changed a lot since then. It’s really nice now, and it’s got a lot going for it, but I don’t feel like painting it anymore. I guess I like the underneath of things.
For the train series, I wanted to paint what couldn’t be seen. I had been going to New York City to visit the museums. It wasn’t a regular commute, but I would do it a couple times a year. It takes about three to four hours to get to New York, and I would look out the window. I would see the things that people on the streets of those places didn’t usually see, like the backs of buildings where people would throw the trash or some old equipment was kept. The old houses were there, and the old railroad equipment was there—some of it still in use. And when you approach New York City, you begin to see the landscape change. I took a lot of photographs out the window, and would compile them into these paintings. There was a wide variety of imagery, and I found it interesting.
I bring a lot of abstraction into my work. Once I grouped the photographs together, I began to make drawings in order to work out the composition. If you look at the paintings, they don’t make sense in a spatial way. There’s a lot of overlapping perspectives. But I got the elements of the city into them that I wanted to depict.”
Noelani Kirschner is the editorial assistant for the Scholar.
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