A solo exhibition at TAG, The Artists Gallery, Los Angeles, CA — May 29 to June 21, 2024

Inspired by the influential women in her life, particularly her grandmother, Viola, and her great-mama Sarah, Karen Hochman Brown’s solo exhibition, Generation(s), reflects a blend of the traditional craftsmanship of Sarah’s crochet and the Hochman Brown’s use of modern technology. The shapes of her childhood have become the core of her art practice, highlighting the deeply personal nature of her creative process. In Generation(s) she melds digital photography, laser-cut elements, and heirloom crocheted pieces, paying homage to the enduring legacy of matriarchal generations past.

Hochman Brown’s artistic process, centered in the realm of technology, showcases her mastery of mathematical algorithms to distort photography and create intricate layers of imagery. Drawing from her great-mama’s repetitive crochet motifs, the exhibition highlights Hochman Brown’s 
preference for symmetry and the enduring influence of familial bonds. Her mother, Ruelene, passed down her love of botanical oddities, which are pervasive throughout Hochman Brown’s work.

Generation(s) will also take the viewer on a journey through her childhood overnight visits with Bama. Hochman Brown lovingly refurbished the swan-neck chaise lounge where she would sleep. Additional elements in this exploration of her artistic roots include photographs of Bama’s odd collections and self-portraits through the years.

“In many ways these new pieces are the wonderful culmination of Karen’s many years of creating mandala-like work from photos she’s taken in nature — flowers, succulents, etc — digitally processed into the mystical images. By building these new ones around the handiwork of our great-grandmother (Great Mama, we called her), she’s taken this to a magnificent, and magnificently personal, new level. Seeing them today filled my heart with joy and my head with memories as Karen celebrated the generations of women who helped shape her — great-grandmother, grandmother and mother, Ruelene, whose green thumb in her garden inspired Karen’s use of nature in her work.”

Generation(s) opening reception, excerpt
By Stephen Hochman, esteemed journalist and artist’s brother

The Collaboration Across Time
Mixed media works: Digital print on Kinwashi paper and metallic paper, glass cabochons, wood panel box, plexiglass sheet, laser-cut acrylic, adhesives, metal hardware with crocheted cotton doilies created by the artists great-grandmother.

“I have always thought that my love of kaleidoscopes came from the toy I used to play with in my mother’s garden. However, while going through the crocheted linens I inherited from my grandmother’s estate, I have come to realize that the proclivity for symmetry comes from a much deeper place. The doilies, tablecloths, bedspreads, antimacassars, pillows, etc., created by her mother, my great-grandmother, surrounded me beginning with my crib blanket. 

I was inspired to work with this long-gone woman whose work is imprinted upon me — to mingle my flower mandals with Great-Mama’s doilies and make something new.

A place for everything and everything in it’s place

“Bama’s house was always neat as a pin. But she had a lot of stuff. She also had places to put the stuff that she and Bamp collected over the years going to auctions and recieving gifts from friends and family. 

This series was taken 2010. Bama was 103 and bedridden. The little displays of some of her cherished possessions and curious arrangements were placed years before, but kept neat and dusted by her caretakers until her passing at age 105.”

Self-portraits over the Chaise Lounge
A collection of the artist’s self-portraits over the years 

“I was an arty kid from the beginning. I started drawing self-portraits early on. These first attempts were pretty generic and wishful. I might sport a beehive hairdo or be wearing makeup (god forbid). Over the years I’ve checked in with myself, whether by assignment or self-provocation, to see who came out in the rendering. Bama, who championed my artistic endeavors, proudly hung the two self-portraits that were part of my graduation art exhibition from Pitzer College. The photograph “The Chaise,” shows these two unorthodox pieces in situ over the swan-necked daybed in her master bedroom, alongside my (much) earlier still life of ‘Artichoke Flowers in Blue Stein.'”

The Swan-necked Chaise Lounge
Painted carved alder wood frame, upholstered with custom printed cotton drill fabric, mattress, pillows

“Bama lived a block away as the crow flies. I spent the night there often. My place was on the swan-neck daybed, in Bama and Bamp’s bedroom. When the chaise daybed came to me after Bama’s passing, I began to contemplate how to refurbish it. In fact, the arrival of this heirloom and great-mama’s crochet work were the impetus for this show, Generation(s). 

The motif for the fabric is a manipulated photograph of a white sage plant in my mother’s garden. Repainting the frame brought the carved alder wood swans to life. And the turtles? Bama would arrange her turtle collection, on a round table in spirals or mandalas, changing the arrangement whenever they needed a dusting. Eventually, turtles spilled into every room in the house. I chose the brass turtle dinner bell (you wind it up and tap the head or tail) to represent Bama’s collection.”

The Four Generations
Projection through hand-crocheted tablecloth

“The tablecloth was created by great-mama and used on special occasions. Each perfect lacy square was rendered in cotton thread. It would drape over a solid-colored cloth on the dining table at Bama’s house where we congregated for birthdays, anniversaries, out-of-town family and the like. We celebrated the four generations of women when we would gather, so much so that I’m surprised I cannot find a single photograph of the four of us together.” 

Collected from her family archives, Hochman Brown stitched together an homage to the four generations, showing her foremothers at various stages of their lives and hers.