Exploring Belonging

Jun 30, 2017 7:33PM

Jackie Hoysted simultaneously excited a detail-driven brain and massages a grief-stricken heart.

Jackie Hoysted
Cerrunos, 2017

BoxHeart Gallery is a wonderland on a Sunday afternoon, part boutique  and part gallery. Living-room furniture decorates the entrance, easing  visitors into the intimate and compelling body of work by Irish-born,  Maryland-based multimedia artist Jackie Hoysted. Conflicted fits  well on the first floor of BoxHeart, embracing all of what this  gallery’s mission craves: “tragic and wonderful realities.” Ironically, Conflicted, an ardent exploration of belonging, is perfectly at home here.

Hoysted’s focus and skill are notable in individual pieces, and  thrilling in the context of the complete exhibition. Hoysted  communicates complex emotional histories in her acute self-portraiture  by use of visual motifs: limiting subjects to head and shoulders; a  solitary line to substitute for the backbone or the rest of the body;  black and white palettes with splashes of color; and poignant titles  referencing Gaelic myth or Irish localisms. “Medb Doth Spilleth Over”  differs, as the face is more defined, and the use of green deftly  references the Celtic mother goddess.

Hoysted continuously examines nostalgia: Does she feel blessed or  cheated? “Sorrow” and “Liberty” are similar in style and in portrait  outline to the others, except for the backbone line, which looks like  it’s full of musical notes. The angle of that line is usually  perpendicular to the bottom of the page, but it’s parallel in “Liberty”  and diagonal in “Sorrow.” Hoysted creates her own set of rules, then  breaks them. This choice has a distinct emotional effect.

Exceedingly deliberate, her construction method mirrors her conceptual  processes. She paints on Dura-lar, a translucent, protective covering  used for drafting. This slippery, malabsorptive surface sometimes causes her colors to run together. The technique takes patience, and the paint takes a long time to dry. In “Frail,” the precise delicacy in one blob of paint transforms it into the subtle dangling of a collarbone.

Hoysted simultaneously manages to excite a detail-driven brain and  massage a grief-stricken heart. Hoysted confronts big questions.  “Identity,” on black arches paper, is the most efficient of her larger  pieces. Are we nothing more than a collection of patterns, motifs  repeated over and over? Without an outline to our form, what keeps us  from floating or melting away? Throughout this show, nothing is  resolved, but it feels like Hoysted’s getting closer to something.  Homing in.

Article by Natalie Spanner

March 22, 2017, Pittsburgh City Paper