‘My Work Is an Expression of My Sensuality’: Watch Painter Loie Hollowell Describe How Her Pregnancy Transformed Her Practice

As part of a collaboration with Art21, hear news-making artists describe their inspirations in their own words.

Production still from the Art21 "New York Close Up" film, "Loie Hollowell's Transcendent Bodies." © Art21, Inc. 2021.

Why bright colors? Why geometric forms? What is beauty? 

These are all questions that painter Loie Hollowell poses to herself and strives to answer with her work, which is (of course) all of those things: brightly colored, geometric, and handsome.

The artist, who gave birth to her second child during the pandemic, spoke to Art21 in an exclusive interview as part of the “New York Close Up” series about how her painting was changed by her pregnancy.

“My work is an expression of my core sensuality,” Hollowell said. “I’m a body experiencing desire, experiencing pleasure… It is sensual and needy and dirty and expressive.” 

In the video, Hollowell describes the experience of choosing to have an abortion in her late 20s, and the tumult of conflicting emotions and the bodily transformation.

Production still from the Art21 “New York Close Up” film, “Loie Hollowell’s Transcendent Bodies.” © Art21, Inc. 2021.

As a child, Hollowell grew up in the midst of the Light and Space movement in California, where artists were invested in using light to manipulate environments and perceptions.

Those influences come to bear in Hollowell’s work, though she manages to conjure the same effects on a canvas instead of in the wider world.

What I love about having a painting that, in reality, is a sculpture, is that it changes within each context, within each space that it’s hung,” she says.

There’s always that hunting, that searching for a light-filled experience,” she tells Art21.

Watch the video, which originally appeared as part of Art21’s New York Close Up series, below. The brand new 10th season of the show is available now at Art21.org. 

This is an installment of “Art on Video,” a collaboration between Artnet News and Art21 that brings you clips of newsmaking artists. A new series of the nonprofit Art21’s flagship series Art in the Twenty-First Century is available now on PBS. Catch all episodes of other series like New York Close Up and Extended Play and learn about the organization’s educational programs at Art21.org.

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