Breaking Free: Dark Matter, Dark Energy
Exhibit Essay by Gary R. Libby, Arts Author and Historian, Director Emeritus, Museum of Arts and Sciences, Daytona Beach, FL
Long appreciated as an abstract figurative and landscape painter using a dark and rich palette and with a philosophical preoccupation with concepts of physical and emotional restraint, confinement and a striving for a sense of freedom, Margaret Schnebly Hodge has traveled a long and very interesting path of achievement in her career to date which can be viewed in the variety of the artwork presented in this exhibition.
Born in Daytona Beach, Florida, and athletic as a child and young adult, Hodge discovered the making of art as a means of personal self-expression in high school and later in college at Daytona State where she attended with a scholarship from the Daytona Beach Art League and eventually the University of Florida where she was graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the School of Fine Arts. Later, Hodge studied at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach before winning a 2005 Florida Arts Council Enhancement Grant as well as a number of additional awards and commendations from organizations throughout the State of Florida.
Hodge has exhibited her work selectively with recent exhibitions at the Daytona State College News-Journal Center, Daytona Beach; the Florida Museum for Women Artists, DeLand; and the Karpeles Manuscript Museum, Jacksonville. In 2014 she unveiled a new group of paintings with a “cosmic “ theme. A casual glance at the titles of her recent work and a close look at the work itself suggests that Hodge has dramatically expanded her aesthetic vision beyond the sense of earth-bound
considerations which occupied her earlier work. Now Hodge seems to look up and deeply into the night sky as a source of inspiration, especially since the phenomenal discoveries and deep-space images from the Hubble and other more advanced space telescopes which are looking into the worlds of dark matter and dark energy. These explorations redefine and help to explain our expanding and simultaneously collapsing universe. But Hodge is not merely illustrating these phenomena in a scientific way. Rather she is remystifying our universe in a series of large, complex and colorful paintings that suggest large ideas about our concepts of human visual perception and the workings of the outer universe.
The qualities of light in a dynamic cosmos, the existence of supernovas, the qualities of dark stars, dark matter, dark energy, baryonic clouds of matter and ideas about anti-matter all seem to find a place in Hodge’s richly painted visions of a beautiful and powerful apocalypse on the heels of contemporary science's early penetration into the mysteries of creation and destruction in our universe. In many ways Hodge’s new work artistically begins to bridge important elements of this new science with the eternal beauty and mystery of the Heavens.