Joel Hobbie’s solo exhibit at Peters Projects, “Points in Space,” showcases Hobbie’s latest body of work that combines cast bronze root systems with interactive mechanical components, most of which are repurposed salvage from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
“The work focuses on the balance between the opposing elements of natural versus mechanical and forces the viewer to become part of that balance through the use of a 3-axis proximity detector that I have developed over the past six months,” says Hobbie, who is drawn to nature and transformative ideas of death and rebirth.
Opening on June 2, “Points in Space” features work inspired by uprooted cottonwood trees that were unearthed by flooding in the Santa Fe area close to Hobbie’s home.
Cast dead branches and industrial salvage are combined to create forms that address topics including anonymity in society and our relationship with ourselves. As the viewer approaches a piece, its custom-built detectors read a person’s position relative to its own eye and adjust the sculpture accordingly. The sculpture “sees” viewers and reacts the closer they get.
Hobbie, who studied sculpture and metalworking at Western Michigan University, The University of Minnesota and Albuquerque’s TVI (which is now known as Central New Mexico Community College), began using recycled materials in his work in the mid 1990s. He discovered the Black Hole, a store in Los Alamos that acquired and sold surplus materials from LANL, when he moved to Santa Fe in 1998. After the store closed in 2012, Hobbie started sourcing tech salvage online.
“The work is about a lot of different ideas balancing themselves together in one form,” he says.