Excerpt from Hughen/Starkweather, Artist Pair ‘On the Brink’, by Charles Desmarais, San Francisco Chronicle, October 11, 2017.
Descriptions of their working method may sound academic, but research is just a starting point for art that is sublimely visual. The work displays a clear logic — an artistic geography — with an underlying emotional geology to match.
Hughen/Starkweather is hardly a new collaboration. Amanda Hughen and Jennifer Starkweather met in 1998, when they had studios across the corridor from each other as artists in residence at Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin County. Even then, they saw affinities in their interests and their art. The collaborative has had a share of success many others would envy. Just this year, that included a winning exhibition at Minnesota Street Projects (just closed) and a Bolinas Museum show, “Hughen/Starkweather: Where Water Meets Land,” on view through Nov. 12.
When the pair first began to work together, the marks they made were on separate sheets, one a paper base and the other a transparent overlay. Gradually, the artists began to accept the idea of printing, drawing and painting on the same sheet of paper. Still, though they meet often for research and to discuss progress (“two brains, four eyes,” they point out, in unison) they don’t work side by side. They shuttle partially completed works back and forth across San Francisco, each artist making her contributions independently, in the privacy of her own studio.
Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle
Excerpt from Selene Foster article on Hughen/Starkweather's Adjacent Shores
"Conversations, interviews, and deep research are a significant piece of their process for every project they take on. Feeling a “responsibility to educate the viewer, to give them a window in,” they have, over the course of the last decade, developed a nuanced strategy for avoiding what many artists fail to acknowledge as a problem: leaving their audiences out in the cold. . .When the colors and shapes of a nonrepresentational work of art rearrange themselves into remembrance or recognition, magic happens. Hughen/Starkweather describe this as “closing the space between abstraction and language.”
Excerpt from Christian Frock review of Hughen/Starkweather, Surging and Shifting: Charting the Bay at the Public Policy Institute of California.
"Artists Amanda Hughen and Jennifer Starkweather, as Hughen/Starkweather, have created an extensive body of work that explores the past, present and future shorelines of San Francisco Bay, yielding a beautifully rendered account of climate change, environmental shifts and uncertain futures drawn from historical data and scientific research."
Excerpt from "Mapping a Museum's Collection with Memory," by Ben Valentine
Re:depiction was an audio and visual intervention in the collection, in which Hughen/Starkweather asked staff to recall from memory works on display. Using those memories as inspiration, the duo created large, semiabstract works on paper, which were hung like scrolls in the museum's main staircase. ... How does memory make an artwork? How do our relationships with certain pieces define our perceptions of them? Do any two people actually see and feel the same way before the same work of art? These are the important questions that Re:depiction both raised and complicated.
Excerpt from "Running Amok with the Artists Drawing Club," by Sarah Hotchkiss
Hughen/Starkweather's Re:depiction, six elegant works on paper with accompanying audio tracks. The large pigment prints, each 48 by 36 inches, hung on either side of the museum's grand staircase. Opposite each colorful and highly detailed blend of line and brushwork was a pair of headphones, linked to each artwork by a matching sticker. .... As a collaborative, Hughen/Starkweather's work with the museum, its staff, and the public is a fluid expansion of their practice. A handout available the night of the event invited the public to participate in a similar process of narration and description, highlighting their own picks from the museum. But even without this added layer of interactivity, Re:depiction, an intimate transformation of the museum's collection by those most intimately involved in its upkeep, was a great pleasure.
Excerpt from a review of Valediction by Mary Anne Kluth in Art Practical
Valediction, at Electric Works, is a collaborative exhibition of drawings on paper and Mylar by Amanda Hughen and Jennifer Starkweather, known together as Hughen/Starkweather. The exhibition uses the recently decommissioned eastern span of the Bay Bridge as a starting point―the sole video piece even documents the pair’s last trip across the bridge. Hughen/Starkweather traded the pieces in the exhibition between their studios until they were deemed complete, with some artworks making several trips back and forth. All of the works on paper, such as Valediction 3, feature geometric patterns, marks suggestive of sea and landscape, and pigment dispersions that appear influenced by the duo’s research and site visits, which took place over several years as the new eastern span was constructed. But the works in Valediction are anything but simple documentation. ...Hughen/Starkweather’s images are poetic, and the exhibition reads like an improvised visual conversation. Like much good jazz music, these works focus on rhythm and elaboration. Their intimate size allows for the possibility that they were made on site, from observation. However, the compositions are concise and balanced, qualities that suggest time spent contemplating in the studio.
Read the entire review here.
Excerpt from Nikki Grattan and Klea McKenna, In the Make: Hughen/Starkweather
"They talked at length about the rewards of the extensive research they did for this project— the history, the stories, the politics, and the technical and practical realities they uncovered that gave them an acute and layered understanding of their subject matter. But it wasn’t just the actual, tangible knowledge accrued that Amanda and Jennifer seemed thrilled about, instead they were most inspired by the nitty-gritty, sometimes slow, but always steady process of learning. Both are prompted by a spirit of inquiry and a desire to bring dimension to aspects of ordinary life that are often overlooked; the work they make together is a meeting point where ideas that originate from different directions travel towards each other, cross paths, and come together to interact and interchange."
Read the full interview here.
Excerpt from the article "Even Unfinished, the New Bay Bridge Inspires Artists" by Reyhan Harmanci:
The occasion for the gathering was a show at Electric Works titled “Approach, Transition, Touchdown: The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Project,” by Amanda Hughen and Jennifer Starkweather. The collection of vivid prints and works on paper, depicting aspects of both the new and old Bay Bridges in precise lines and colorful paint blots, is the third collaboration in a running partnership between the two artists, who also work independently.
The pair have also made data-inspired, maplike (yet still abstract) pieces dealing with the history of Market Street as well as a series depicting seven airports across the country. Initially, they intended to work on prints of a range of Bay Area bridges. But the Bay Bridge — the old part, which turned 75 this month, and the new construction, with its size, scope and design elements — has claimed their attention for over two years.
Starkweather called it “a powerful structure, and a powerful metaphor” and said that it fit well into the women’s overarching interest in how built environments interact with the natural world.