Hadia Finley


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Hadia Finley
About the author

The place in me that was formed long ago by impressions made in a world punctuated by the screams and bizarre incantations of a schizophrenic brother is the place where my art was born. At any moment a peaceful family dinner could be interrupted by an unexplained fit in which the dining table could be overturned and the meal sent flying in all directions. I could escape from this to my own room where I made things. I could turn discarded materials, like the cardboard sheets that came inside my father’s shirts when they were returned from the cleaners, telephone wire, pipe cleaners and fabric scraps, broken and discarded things, into magical objects. The process of making took me away from what frightened me and what I could not understand. The objects brought me praise and pleasure. The objects most often were dolls, figures and puppets with houses and castles in which they would live. They would ride around the gray linoleum floor in cars and other contraptions. Even in those childhood years the making of art had its serious side. My father, a self taught and successful commercial artist, though not extremely communicative, did share with me his fascination with the art world. The shelves in our dining room were filled with the most beautiful art books. At 10 I had taken a particular interest in the book published by MOMA on fifty years of the art of Picasso. I went heavily into Cubism, collaging fabric and newspaper into my crayon drawings, and proudly titling one of these works, “A Picasso.” I was rewarded for this with a trip to the Museum of Modern Art to see the Picasso Retrospective. Standing before both versions of the Three Musicians in all their colorful brilliance I was completely lost and entirely amazed. That day in the Museum in my patent leather Mary Jane’s and new dress, proud to be my father’s daughter, was the grandest moment of my young life. Throughout my life I have had many opportunities to study with different teachers. I began seriously working with the figure when I studied with sculptor Chaim Gross. The love of the female figure, its softened, rounded forms and my amazement at the way it has been engineered by nature has never left me. As a student of the assemblage artist, George Herms, I developed a renewed sensitivity to found objects which emphasize the usefulness and beauty of things and people which are seen as discardable by many. In some of my recent work, I alter and combine found objects and forms in order to produce integrated, organic pieces. I enjoy putting things together in surprising and uncompromising ways, and experimenting with materials and techniques. The joints, the oozing glue, the wood fillers and excess solder, the tangled string or wire and weld material are in my work to give life to the objects I make. They call attention to the haphazard and unpredictable nature of life, the necessity to continually reconstruct ourselves in order to survive modern life. My current work is still centered around the female form. I have had many issues with my own body, having lived in it, hated it, given birth, danced in it . . . it is what I know best in this world. In this work I break apart the body and reassemble it, deconstructing common movements into single poses of multiple figures. I may incorporate objects, or combine the figure with parts of other animals that conjure association and metaphor. Modeled and softened forms utilizing shadow and light create a glorification of femininity. My work begins as intuitive visualizations, and through the processes of manipulating materials it becomes articulated into meaning. My desire is to create art, which expands the viewer’s notions of beauty, may provoke unsettling emotion, and contribute to changing cultural attitudes. The power of the media in influencing people’s attitudes and ideas is so strong that it is hard to feel capable, as an individual artist, of having any effect. Yet I feel I can be a small voice in the public conversation advocating, through my art, for more inclusive attitudes, as art can touch people in ways unlike anything else. I received my MFA from Claremont Graduate University in 2002. I attended an art residency in Xiamen, China and return to China regularly. I have exhibited my art in various locations in the Los Angeles area.