Continuing Hammond’s decades-long engagement with materials and process to suggest content, her most recent paintings belong to four interrelated, yet distinct bodies of work: Bandaged Grids, Chenilles, Bandaged Quilts, and Crosses.
In the Chenilles fraying pieces of coarse burlap and grommets are embedded in Hammond’s signature layers of thick paint. Appearing at first glance to be a monochrome, up close, underlying colors are visible through cracks and peek out from flaps in the painting’s sculptural surface. Patterns created by the work’s raised grommets recall the soft, cozy texture and domestic warmth of white tufted chenille bedspreads. At the same time, reds, browns, and golds assert themselves from underneath the surface, oozing, discharging, and staining their surroundings to draw attention to what has been muffled, obscured, and covered over. In this way, the painting alludes to political threats and social unrest—marginalization and suppression—and lays claim to the physical vestiges of resistance and survival.
Meanwhile, Hammond’s series of Bandaged Grids transform strips of canvas into bandages that stanch paint leaking from grommeted holes. As the artist notes, “A bandage always implies a wound. A bandaged grid implies a disruption of utopian egalitarian order—but also the possibility of holding together, of healing.”
Building on the conceptual framework that informs Hammond’s Bandaged Grids, her series of Bandaged Quilts use paint and other materials as a metaphor for the body. Featuring lengths of burlap and canvas arranged in quilt-like patterns, they subvert the (male) legacy of Minimalist monochromatic painting, reclaiming these abstract compositions through the vernacular of (female) craft traditions.
Similarly evocative, the Cross Paintings feature wide swaths of rough burlap superimposed like giant cross-shaped bandages on white fields of grommets. “They are crosses and not crosses,” Hammond muses. “I began these paintings during the summer of 2019. What reads as crosses weren’t initially meant as crosses, but rather as Xs marking the spot, as plus signs and intersections. And yet, I have to admit, that they are crosses. There are many kinds of crosses and many kinds of crossings.” Despite the scale and muscular materiality of the Cross Paintings, as a sign, the cross is indeterminate; its form references diverse cultural associations, including religious iconography, emblems of medical and humanitarian aid, and the modernist art historical canon.
A crossroads for meaning—where the metaphorical and formal meet and are transmuted—Hammond’s Cross Paintings and other recent works ultimately invite multiple readings rooted in the primacy of the canvas as a stand-in for the body. Presenting her paintings as sites where paint is transfigured into skin, the artist constructs surfaces that simultaneously express trauma and recovery. Recuperative paintings for this moment—wounded, yet protective—Hammond’s works embody vulnerability, strength, and defiance to resonate in a time of radical social change.