Kate Dodd: New Work

Kate Dodd, Words Have Weight, 2023, new repurposed reference book, 8” x 12” x 4”
January 21 - April 28, 2024

Kate Dodd is obsessed with excess, with the unwanted, the discarded, and the underutilized.  In her work, she seeks to repurpose items that no longer have an essential use.  Once they were manufactured in great quantities; then they were abandoned, superfluous, castoff.  

Dodd’s starting point is the materials. She has said, “I have always had a tremendous fascination with materials and making.  So when I see materials being disposed of without much thought … I see both treasure and mistreatment, and feel an immediate need to resurrect the neglected and disrespected.”  

The work in this show continues Dodd’s use of ignored materials, often paper. In sculptures such as Decoy and Words Have Weight, for example, the artist has cut up Golden Book Children’s Encyclopedias that were popular in the 1950s and 60s. With paper strips and images cut from books, Dodd builds sculptures, creating new objects from materials no longer in use.  Dodd remembers the books as presenting a confident view of the world, one that spoke of endless resources and unstoppable human progress.  That view has since been tarnished, but by creating sculptures she recasts the words and images in new ways. The sculpture Coming Soon is particularly appropriate for this exhibition, which takes place just inches from the Raritan River, which recently overflowed its banks and flooded the Museum.  The tower constructions made of optimistic text stand amid rising floodwaters caused by climate change.   

As a location for Dodd’s work, Hunterdon Art Museum, a repurposed nineteenth century gristmill, is a perfect match.  Like the materials the artist uses, the mill is no longer useful in its original context.  In her site specific installation, Production Line, Dodd cleverly incorporates the mill’s grain chutes that exist as reminders of the building’s previous role in manufacturing.  Paper lipstick holders pour out of the chutes in the Museum’s ceiling and seemingly move through walls into other spaces.  The building, once important in the production of flour, a staple of life, now serves as a conduit for art, which is for some a necessity of life and for others mere gloss. 

Kate Dodd, Words Have Weight, 2023, new repurposed reference book, 8” x 12” x 4”

About the Artist

Kate Dodd received her B.F.A. from Pratt Institute in 1983, and her M.F.A. from Columbia University in 1990, and currently lives and teaches in New Jersey.  She has exhibited her artwork nationally in museums, galleries, and colleges, and has been teaching art in public and private schools for 30 years.  Kate has been awarded residencies at MacDowell, Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Papermaking, the Connemara Conservancy, Cummington Community for the Arts, the Vermont Studio School and numerous schools in the tri-state area.  In addition to site-specific installations, Kate has large scale works commissioned by NJ Transit in Bayonne, Newark, South Amboy, and Hoboken.  Kate’s installations provide a heightened sensory experience for the viewer\occupant, while reexamining institutional and conventional notions of architecture and its relationship to the environment.

Kate Dodd has exhibited her artwork widely throughout New Jersey and in New York and California. Dodd frequently works with repurposed materials, using everything from discarded books to Styrofoam cups to create installations for a variety of venues, from museums and parks to schools and train stations.

“A certain amount of my artwork,” says Dodd, “responds to the question: What is there a lot of in the world that people don’t value? What can I do to give these materials value? A central part of art-making to me is turning nothing into something or turning raw materials into objects. And part of what making satisfies for me is the need to bring order to chaos. It doesn’t make sense to me to make new objects when the world is already so full of objects. And almost nothing seems as ever present and unwanted as plastic bottles.”

Learn more about Dodd and her work at katedodd.com.

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In addition to inspiring people with our classes, we spark imaginations with world-class art installed on our terrace and in our galleries. We maintain the beautiful stone mill that deepens your ties with the past and provide a gathering place for your family and friends on the Toshiko Takaezu Terrace. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation so that we may continue educating, challenging, and inspiring community through the arts.

The Hunterdon Art Museum is barrier-free and accessible to people who use wheelchairs. Patrons who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired may contact the Museum through the New Jersey Relay Service at (TTY) 1 (800) 852-7899. Visit our Accessibility page for complete information.

Programs are made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; Hyde and Watson Foundation; The Large Foundation; and The Holt Foundation, along with other corporations, foundations, and individuals. 

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