I hope women can recognize the flexibility they have practiced as a strength used to overcome circumstances that want to contain us. We push back and step out.
Erika B. Hess
Erika B. Hess is a painter, curator, writer, and host of the art podcast I Like Your Work. Hess’s work has been exhibited nationally including in NYC, Brooklyn, Detroit, L.A., Boston, and Philadelphia. Recent solo exhibitions include Marietta College (Marietta, OH) and MUSA Collective (Boston, MA). Recent group exhibitions include Contemporary Art Matters (NYC, Columbus, and Artsy) BHG Gallery (Canada), Co-Worker Gallery (Toledo, OH), and The Yard (Brooklyn, NYC).
She has been featured in various publications including Boston University CFA Alumni Magazine, Art New England, ArtScope, AllSHEMakes, and Visionary Art Magazine. Hess has curated and juried exhibitions, publications, and awards including Create Magazine, Friend of the Artist, Cambridge Art Association (Cambridge, MA), Gallery 263 (Cambridge, MA) AllSheMakes, Arts to Hearts, Riffe Gallery (Columbus, OH), and she has served on panels at SCOPE (Miami), Cleveland Institute of Art, and Boston University and frequently lectures at colleges such as Wellesley University, Massachusetts College of Art & Design, Missouri State University, Eastern Michigan University, and many others.
Hess maintains an active studio practice in Columbus, OH, and in Long Island City in New York where she keeps a selected inventory of work. She is represented by Contemporary Art Matters in Columbus, OH.
Hess received her MFA from Boston University.
Growing up in the southern US, I quickly learned there was a certain expectation of how to “properly” be a woman: now, I challenge what that looks like, using performed femininity as a tool to reveal not only gender disparities, but also to illuminate the relentless critique and politicization of the female body. Instead of hiding or denying femme aesthetics and female sexuality, my pieces embrace, highlight, and empower them, while acknowledging all the awkwardness, humor, and theatricality they entail. My work is a balancing act between sensual forms and playful materials. By augmenting erotic, sensual armatures with glistening rhinestones, feathery pom-poms, and candy-colored fabrics, I assign new meanings and connotations to the forms. Using primarily ceramics and fabric, I create sculptures that evoke pieces of oversized jewelry, shoes, and other fashion and domestic items. I begin a piece by sculpting a high-fired ceramic component, painting it, and carefully studding the surface one by one with tiny rhinestones. From here, I will add textile elements as well as beauty supplies materials like hair scrunchies and nail polish. The resulting pieces are flirtatious, attention-seeking, and deceptively superficial. Toying with their own actualities and potential, they can speak—glittery and powerful—to politics in their own voice: excessive, unabashedly hyper-feminine, and most importantly, pink.
Woman of Power
Strength and POWER
Viveros Anti Pinup Girls
2022 How Long Has It Been Since You’ve Been Outside, Marietta College, Marietta, OH
2018 Love Letters From The Edge of the World, Wanderlife Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
2017 Viewing Light, Main Hall, Newton Free Library, Newton, MA
2017 The Line Between the Past and the Present, MUSA Collective, Boston, MA
2014 AUTO RESPOND: Out of the Office, Micro Art Space, Cleveland, OH