Nebraska Now: Lisa Bang Hoffman

April 19 – July 20, 2008 —

In her first exhibition at the Museum of Nebraska Art, Lincoln artist Lisa Bang Hoffmantouches on the universal through the commonplace − photographs of her family. By focusing on her three children (and occasionally her husband and self), Hoffman’s black and white and sepia-like toned prints break past the simply personal and invite memories of childhood and family together with feelings of awkwardness, joy, longing, and even fear or uncertainty.

Through glimpses of time caught primarily with a 35mm camera, the images are akin to simple family photographs − specifically to vintage prints because of their scale, subject, and manner of printing. While the print sizes vary, the majority of the works lean toward the small (4×6 or 8×10) as the artist chose to take advantage of the 35mm format to allow “tight placements and cropping to direct the content of the image.” While presenting the known is an advantage in approachability with the work, it can also impart the idea that a viewer could produce the same photographs (an “I could do that” notion). Yet there is specific intentionality with these photographs that is grounded in knowledge of the history of photography, much time with the camera and in the darkroom, and producing digital prints (the exhibition is comprised of both film and digital work).

The moments that are caught are sometimes blurry and the snatches of imagery come at the viewer in a fragmented and sometimes disorderly way. This is how we remember – not always in the specifics, but in bits and pieces and through emotion, smell, taste, and touch. Hoffman’s photographs call out to those fragments: capturing a half smile from a daughter that is all too familiar to a mother (Julien Holding Grass), or the funny awkwardness of maturity intersecting with childhood as a child attempts to swim in a kiddie pool that she has clearly outgrown (Kiddie Pool). Through these photographs the artist evokes the commonality of the life experience of us all.

Lisa Bang Hoffman’s study of art began in 1989 with an Associate of Arts degree from Waldorf College, Forest City, Iowa. Two years later, she received a Bachelor of Arts from Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota before study at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. In 1995 she completed a Master of Fine Art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Hoffman has taught at various Nebraska schools including Southeast Community College, Lincoln; Concordia University, Seward; Doane College, Crete; and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her photographs have been included in numerous exhibitions including those at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, Nebraska; Soho Photo, New York City; Illinois Institute of Art − Chicago, Illinois; Barrett Art Center, Poughkeepsie, New York; and Salina Art Center, Salina, Kansas. In 2004, she was presented the Distinguished Artist Award by the Nebraska Arts Council. The following year, she received the Gaudi Medal at the VI International Biennial of Photography at the Institut Municipal d’Acció Cultural, Reus, Catalonia, Spain.