Beth Hoeckel is a multidisciplinary artist from Baltimore. She received her BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and spent time in New York, Los Angeles, and abroad before returning to Baltimore. She creates mixed media paintings and collages that invoke a mixture of human emotions—from comfort to trepidation, from nostalgia to mystery.
What is your process when it comes to making each piece? Where do you find the images for your collage work? Since you also do your own photography, do you ever incorporate those into your collages?
My process is purely intuitive. Most of the images I use are from vintage publications such as National Geographic’s from the 1950’s/60’s, but isn’t limited to any certain type of magazine. I also use books or found papers. The only limitation is that it has to be old. I have tried to play around with using my own photographs without much success but maybe will try something like that again in the future, I haven’t ruled it out.
The combinations in your collages are strikingly well-paired. Do you find that some pieces come to you very quickly, while others end up being labored over? Is there any correlation in your mind between how much you like a piece and how much difficulty it gave you?
Yes some do come very quickly, and yes some do have to be labored over. It’s often a right-place-right-time situation. Sometimes things happen accidentally too, like I’ll be moving stuff around and something falls into place and I’ll just be like oh that’s perfect. No, there is no correlation there. Actually most of my favorite pieces are the simplest ones.
Your artwork frequently features human figures, but rarely shows an un-obscured face. In my mind, the image of another human is comforting as the viewer, but the lack of faces feels slightly frightening. I can’t decide if I see myself as one of the figures, or if the figures read as strangers to me. Do you have any specific intention in doing this?
That is pretty much the point. Each viewer can project their own feelings into it. I do have specific intention in doing this. If a facial expression is there, it’s all laid out for you. It’s obvious. I want it to be mysterious and thought provoking.
How has your artwork changed over the years? On your website you have your artwork neatly grouped off according to medium and visual themes–do these groups also reflect your development chronologically? Or are you constantly working on several things at once?
I usually do work on a few different projects at once. In my studio I have a separate desk for collage and a desk for painting/drawing. Sometimes I mix the two. I have my site separated into sections because there is so much that it would all be a huge nonsensical jumble if it was all grouped together. It makes it easier for me to find my own things, too. They’re not in chronological order. I still work on most of those projects, and add new things to some of the older pages.
Do you have a studio here in the city, and if so where are you located? How has living in Baltimore influenced your art, in comparison to Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and your time abroad?
Yes, I live in my studio in the City Arts building. I think the main way Baltimore has influenced my art is that I have more time to make it. And now that I’m a bit more grounded here, that makes it easier for me to focus on work.
Prints of Hoeckel’s artwork can be purchased at Trohv. To view more of her work, visit her website at bethhoeckel.com