Hoffman’s work investigates human relationships to sanctuary. It engages our elemental need for a secure sense of home – whether permanent or ephemeral – embodied in the spaces, communities and structures within which we live our daily lives. It also simultaneously acknowledges a countervailing – if not always wholly conscious – impulse to abandon, escape or even destroy those same sanctuaries when they begin to stultify us. In her sculptures, she addresses the tension inherent in sanctuary on both literal and metaphorical levels. Depending on the site location, the sculptures are acted upon by both natural elements and the viewing audience. Through this process, one sees a recapitulation of the natural life of a place of refuge as object (a home, a school, a gallery, a factory), but in an accelerated form and time frame that is actually observable given the nature of the materials used. This type of interaction brings to the surface not only the inescapable impermanence of places we rely on as durable repositories for our identities, our hopes and dreams; it also asks the viewer to consider the meaning of sanctuary in his or her own life, pressing the “idea” of home or refugee into productive – and hopefully demystifying – contact with the material construction of an object of sanctuary, disclosing the normally concealed conditions of its production. Exposing and interrogating “sanctuary” through sculpture, her work seeks to understand the materially fleeting but ideologically persistent “American Dream.”
Judith Hoffman is a visual artist and filmmaker. She holds an MFA from Pratt Institute and a BA from Smith College. She has held residencies and fellowships around the United States including Sculpture Space, Santa Fe Art Institute, Vermont Studio Center, and served as visiting artist at Wayne State University in Detroit. Her work has been included at institutions, festivals and fairs throughout the United States, including ArtBasel Miami, FL, Storefront Bushwick, NY, The Soap Factory, MN, The Center for Contemporary Art, NM, and Art in General, NY. Hoffman was a 2012 nominee for the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant. In 2016, she was awarded the TEMPO Portland prize.