A zone all its own

One day the artist Linda Hutchins asked herself: "What would it be like to type the same thing over and over again?" Where might it lead, as both a visual and psychological expression?

The artist believes it is important to pay attention to those odd thoughts and voices that we are often told to brush aside. This act of listening, of examining the mundane and following intuition, is one of the greatest touchstones of this artist and one from which we all could learn.

Hutchins looks at her art of typing as something many repetitive tasks can offer: a groove and a rhythm which creates a zone all its own. The act of typing one word or phrase over and over again results in imagery similar to weaving or needlepoint and other cyclical tasks often done by women. The artist had previously worked in those mediums typically known as crafts, such as weaving and textiles, so the resulting rhythms should come as no surprise.

However, in the case of this typing, we also have the added element of words, which give an extra meaning but also change as they are repeated. Hutchins’ works perform like a mantra since they are words, sometimes in odd combination but often commonly used everyday words. The fact that the words are the kind we say everyday emphasizes how the mundane can carry its own kind of bliss (in the hands of the right artist).

In her small exhibition currently up at the Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, located at 522 N.W. 12th Ave., words often used by parents and other authority figures are the main focus. One piece, all typed in red, hangs like a scroll with the words "pay attention." The phrase is repeated endlessly, forming a pattern which transforms as it goes along.

As is typical with her work, at first it appears that the words are typed perfectly and you wonder what kind of penance it was to create the entire piece. The longer you look though the more irregularities you see and these irregularities, these imperfections, are part of the whole rhythm. They are also, in some perverse way, a reminder to the viewer (and maybe the artist?) to heed what the words say.

The artist is very particular to every aspect of the work: how it feels to type out a certain word or phrase, what kind of rhythm it establishes. She is particular about the paper, the kind of typewriter, how it is all displayed. There is a classic beauty to the woven patterns, which will appeal to anyone interested in the craft side of the arts, but there is also a conceptual aspect to the work that will satisfy anyone in need of long contemplation into meaning and subtext.

So many times when words are added in visual art, they can seem self-conscious and somehow not quite right. When art literally "talks" to us it’s easy to feel as if it’s talking at us and it’s not always a successful situation. Linda Hutchins has definitely been able to transcend this problem, by making the word the form itself.

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