Two American Pop Artists Redefine Minimalism

January 16 – March 27, 2011

Curated by Christian Bernard Singer

Exhibition sponsored by the Estate of J. Douglas McCullough



Dumas Self reflection for web            





Click here for the exhibition brochure.

Click here to watch a video of this exhibition



Now and Never

Jim Hake’s figurative sculptures and mixed-media works playfully incorporate recognizable images and references from popular culture in order to set the stage for revelatory surprises. Meanwhile, Hake’s use of repetition and the ‘multiple’ ultimately creates a cohesive visual allowing for irony, ambiguity, and space for the viewer’s own narrative interpretation.

The work included in this exhibition spans some 10 years, most of which was created in Italy where he lived, worked, and taught for 12 years. Although Hake’s training and skills include a wide variety of materials and techniques, both the physical limitations and the location of his studio in Turin necessitated his having to find an inobtrusive, relatively clean and odourless material with which to work. He fell in love with clay, responding to the immediacy and quietness of the medium which allowed him room to think and expand mentally as he worked. What may have originally been an obstacle, actually propelled him onto a new path of thinking and making art.

Hake was inspired by the mainly Baroque art and architecture in Turin where every decorative element had purpose, seemed interconnected, evidenced incredible craftsmanship, and was often rich with parables. This aspect of using stories to illustrate a moral or religious lesson can be seen in Hake’s blending of Roman mythological figures with religiously iconographic gestures which instantly “charge” a work with additional layers of meaning. As well, painters, rather than ceramists or sculptors influence his work because paintings often have illusionistic qualities. This is especially true in Hake’s latest series of wall-hung portraits that explore the popular significance of social networking as well as the recent phenomenon of the disposable image (quick digital snapshots) and the possibilities of larger ‘inter-collective’ dialogues between people.

No matter his subject, Hake first takes us on a ride of the senses. His use of beauty, colour, humour, and formal composition imbue the work with joyful optimism and lightness of being which invite us to stay with the work and bring to it more of ourselves as a way of understanding the work.



There are many layers and facets to my approach to making and each project that I undertake is unique. Each project is a self-imposed aesthetic and conceptual problem that requires a specific solution. My work is both self-portrait and narrative by nature. It reflects elements of my life whether they are directly related to the personal or to events and stories that surround me or are part of my society and culture. In the earlier work, I was responding to strongly to my new Italian environment and aesthetic influences that were present in every aspect of daily life.

I pay close attention to gestures and expressions, especially in religious iconography. The use of a gesture that is associated with religious iconography imbues a piece with a similar power and spiritual strength. I would often combine this interest in western religion with stories of Greek mythology and use them to talk about people that were close to me. For instance, in “Before The Storm”, I combined the story of Poseidon with that of Saint Francis of Assisi. He emerges from the sea looking upward, arms outstretched in the position of Jesus on the cross while birds roost indifferently on his arms.  All the while, it is a portrait of a dear friend, which is evident with the red beard and bald head and damaged eye. It speaks of his inability deal with other important things in life because his selfless approach to aiding others keeps him forever at their mercy.

This type of portraiture exploits the universality of the mythological and religious symbolism to add strength to the image of such a humble man. But equally important, it gives the viewer many ways to enter and understand the work.  Although the work is very personal, it is important that viewers can relate to it directly and perhaps discover something about themselves by creating their own stories.

Although my work may at times appear to shift dramatically from one piece to another, there are always key ingredients that are present: Craftsmanship, Composition, Narrative, Concept, Irony, Ambiguity. Not everyone will discern each ingredient.  I work very hard though to insure that anyone who views my work walks away with something. I use clay often for a variety of reasons. I didn’t begin using ceramics as a production process until I moved to Italy. I had no tools, no money, no space and no technical vocabulary. Clay satisfied my need to begin making new work immediately. My studios were always in densely populated urban areas which required that my professional practice be as quiet and odor-free as possible. I would occasionally do projects in wood and steel and resin but these were tolerated because for the most part the rest of time I was not a disturbance to the neighborhood.

I enjoyed my new material and would challenge myself technically with every piece.  I began teaching ceramic sculpture almost immediately and in a short time, I became well known for my teaching and my work.

My work is for the most part figurative. It is important to convey my ideas and stories through the figure even if it is a fragment such as a heart or head. In these cases the focus on the fragment opens possibilities for more directed psychological and conceptual interpretation.  The desire to create a feeling of lightness or floating has led me to create pieces that hang on the wall. I dislike bases and find that if I depart directly from the floor that the pieces quickly become huge and unmanageable. Although my work tends to be large in scale, it is often composed of small elements that require an intimate investigation.  Because of this interest, I conceive my work with the idea that it is for interior spaces. I want the work to be lived with and be part of a daily experience.

In art school the stigma of clay as a craft material still persisted. Photography wasn’t taken seriously as art making by anyone other than the photographers.  For years I struggled with the clay hang-ups, avoid glazes and obvious ceramic solutions. I would use photography merely as a tool to gather information, study poses and gestures and proportions. There was a moment of revelation in which I had finally felt that I had un-learned everything that art school forced upon me and was free to embrace both mediums and combine them together with my new direction in relief sculpture.


BIO: Jim Hake was born in Baltimore and received his BFA in 1990 from the Maryland College of Art. He received his MA in sculpture at the California State University Sacramento in 1994 and an MFA from Indiana University in 1996. Later, Hake moved to Turin, Italy where he began his professional sculpture practice. For ten years, he taught at Ebdò art school where he also presided as president. During this time Hake was Art Director for Artemista, a design and production Centre for mentally challenged adults. Hake and his family moved to Toronto in 2008 where he produced a major project entitled The Face of Toronto at The Gardiner Museum for Nuit Blanche 2010. Jim Hake’s work has been shown extensively throughout Italy and Europe, in particular, Milan, Bologna, Venice, Lugano, Stockholm, and London.



Joy Ride: The Golden Path to Enlightenment and Happiness


Opulence and power have long been universally associated with the sparkle of gold, and have, perhaps, caused as many wars as differing views of God. The reflection of golden sunlight upon wind ruffled water and other broken planar/faceted surfaces, scientifically referred to as glitter, create a flicker of heaven on earth.

Glitter and its god, like beauty trajected onto the commonplace, is part of the conceptual fulcrum of this current body of work—although my glitter is the glitter used in child craft and Christmas ornaments. It is my intent to create earthly simulations of divine experience and moments of childlike wonder, while exploiting the utilitarianism of clay and glass and their material existence. In this body of work, the path of the straight and narrow becomes a taxing and unmanageable hopscotch course, and life is depicted as a bumpy off-road experience.

Constructs such as contradiction, absurdity, internal reflection, and conundrum are always constants in my creative process, although my media and methods may vary from piece to piece. I work very intuitively, and my ideas often resonate like rhythmic literary word play. In this body of work, it is my intent to take the utilitarian to a metaphysical level, gilding it with sparkly allegory. I want to represent great truths and beauty with insignificant things, and leave an impression that anyone can create their own golden path to enlightenment and happiness if they are willing to lays enough eggs.


BIO: Born in rural southern Georgia (USA), Amanda Dumas–Hernandez is a conceptually driven interdisciplinary artist who uses the practices of sculpture, painting, installation, and digital imaging in her work. She has an MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University (NYSCC), New York; a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Rhode Island; and has attended the Munchen Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Germany. Her work has been exhibited throughout the USA, Europe, and Australia and represented by Groundfloor Gallery in Sydney, Australia. As well, her work has been reviewed and featured in international art publications, such as Sculpture Magazine. She was also interviewed by BBC Radio and her images were broadcast on British Television. In July 2010, one of her sculptures was the cover image for the international French news magazine Courrier International. Her speaking engagements include keynote speaker at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia. Dumas–Hernandez taught at various institutions before becoming Professor of Foundations Studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design (USA) in 2006.

Click here to watch a video of “Remarketing Jesus” by Amanda Dumas-Hernandez, video by Karl Giffiths Fulton.