Exquisitely removed from the dirt, classic botanical illustration seeks to accurately depict each part of a plant, isolated by its function. Amy Hibbs’ ink work seeks to reintegrate the specimen, pulling it back through the wormhole of representation to a more chthonic, intuitive place.
Inspired in part by the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy, in which the teacher is the receiver and the student is the questioner, Hibbs asks the specimen “what can you teach me? What story can I help you tell with my hands and these materials? How can I express the plant’s qualities by making marks with the specimen itself?” Each piece records a dialogue between object and maker, a narrative that begins with representation and ends with marks made by the plant. This process is not unlike the performative, time-based work in paint or cyanotype by Y. Klein, or Robert Rauschenberg and Susan Weilin, in which the body of the model makes the mark.
In Hibbs’ 3-dimensional works, other earth-bound materials also seek to tell their story. Lines are represented by ropes, string, or cord, connecting one object to another as conduits for energy and meaning, directing the eye, and planting a flag in the territory of drawing.
Hibbs, whose background as a garden instructor strongly informs her work, studied horticulture with her mother, an expert and avid gardener. Hibbs obtained her M.F.A. in Studio Art from Mills College in Oakland. She is the recipient of the graduate affiliate award at the Headlands Center for the Arts.
She currently lives and works in San Jose, California.