Stephen Hodder's Words of Wisdom
As a young artist I was inspired by other artists, Henri Matisse being the most important of these. When I saw his large "cut outs" at the National Gallery I was very moved. The work had the ability which most great works have, to activate both the intellect and the emotions. What I was most informed by was the incredible sense of dignity, which radiated from each piece. At that moment it became my goal to make images, which could also communicate that sense of dignity.
Over the years my imagery became involved with issues of identity, self, family roles and relationships. I was more driven than inspired. I had developed a way of working with symbols and images which came from the far reaches of my own memory and consciousness and was applying it to every situation in my life as a means to learn more about myself and those around me. One thing, which remained constant, was the way I viewed the work. To be successful it had to, at least for me, possess that sense of dignity.
Today my work is still very personal but my view is turned outward and is inclined to seek the spiritual. I still make images based on my intuition and then try to assign them meaning in the hope of learning something I did not know and communicating with the viewer through the same sort of dialogue on their part.
I am quite sure that this concern with the dignity has been the most important motivating factor in the development of my work and in turn it is my work that has allowed me to find dignity within my own life. I am also quite sure that we live in a culture, which is in decline. For me this decline is evidenced by the myriad ways in which our society destroys the dignity of so many of it own members based on their sex, sexual identity, ethnicity, disability and most importantly, lack of financial standing. I used to wonder if making things, which embodied a sense of dignity and communicated the same or some similar emotion to the viewer was really important enough to justify my efforts. When I look around today I am more motivated than I have ever been to continue working for the sake of my own dignity as well as to stress the point that we need to recognize the dignity of the other if we wish to have it for ourselves.
W. Stephen Hodder