Selected Press / Catalogue Excerpts


San Francisco Chronicle, October 2017, Saturday,October 14, 2017

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


Art Practical, March 2016, Thursday,April 14, 2016

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.”


SF ARTS Monthly for the New York Times, November 15, 2015, Sunday,February 28, 2016

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."


San Francisco Chronicle, September 4, 2015, Sunday,February 28, 2016

Excerpt from Glen Helfand's review of First Look: Collecting Contemporary at the Asian, “Asian Art Museum Treads Carefully Into the Contemporary"

"Inclusions reveal a considered collecting strategy favoring the postmodern, contemporary works that extend and build from identifiable traditions and histories -- and connect to scholarship in the museum's specialized curatorial departments. ...Xu Bing is one of the better-known artists in the exhibition, and it's exciting to note that his piece is a museum commission. There is one other, a series of collaborative abstract paintings by the San Francisco team Hughen/Starkweather, who generated their work through interviews with museum employees. It resulted from the Artists Drawing Club, a program that pulls contemporary artists in to do temporary projects -- something that may have been more duly noted at part of the museum's contemporary imperative, even if not all the works enter the collection."


SF ARTS Monthly for the New York Times, November 2014, Thursday,November 20, 2014

Excerpt from Shoebox Orchestra at ampersand by Christian Frock

"Founded in 1999 by the late visionary Bruno Mauro, ampersand is an extraordinary home-based gallery in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood. Following a recent hiatus, the gallery has launched a group exhibition featuring a number of Bay Area darlings including Amanda Hughen, Andy Vogt and Lauren Davies, among others; curated by new director Theodora Mauro."

This group show was on Kenneth Baker's Top 10 list for 2014. Read review here.


HYPERALLERGIC, May 27, 2014, Sunday,June 1, 2014

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.

View the entire article here, or download a pdf here.


KQED Arts, May 31, 2014, Saturday,May 31, 2014

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.

View the entire article here, or download a pdf here.


Arts ATL, January 16, 2014, Thursday,January 16, 2014

Excerpt from "Engaging Conversation about Painting at Marcia Wood Gallery" by Donna Mintz

A quieter engagement is required to experience Amanda Hughen's milky palimpsests of delicate beauty in the second gallery. In work from her Associated Press series, the San Francisco-based artist abstracts shapes culled from jewelry ads in the New York Times using the color palette from adjacent news photographs in the same issue. Hughen repeats her chosen shape with ink and acrylic paint on multiple sheets of mylar or paper, layering them to weightless effect.

Read the entire article here.


Artpractical, September 2013, Wednesday,January 15, 2014

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.



IN THE MAKE, 2012, Monday,October 8, 2012

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.


NEW YORK TIMES, Sunday, November 27, 2011, Monday,November 7, 2011

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.

View a pdf of the entire article here.


HYPERALLERIC, SEPTEMBER 22, 2010, Thursday,September 30, 2010

Excerpt from "Industrial Anxiety: Amanda Hughen, Roger Hiorns" by Ian Epstein

San Francisco-based Amanda Hughen draws and screenprints on stacked layers of Mylar according to a biologic that is uniquely her own. This fictitious putting down of all the modern world’s macro/micro patterns — neurons, network maps, topographies, molecules, and macrostructures — puts distance between their omnipresent reality and their ability to produce everyday unease. Abstracting them this way, Hughen literally mediates science with art — throwing her subjective fantasies between the truth and its representation, and this approach transforms the visual language of modern anxieties into contemplative windows where the hazardous becomes harmless, and the scientific becomes aesthetic.

Read the full article here.


ST. LOUIS BEACON, March 26, 2011, Thursday,April 1, 2010

Excerpt from the article Fantastic Logic, Speculative Models by Ivy Cooper (Image: cover of St. Louis Post-Dispatch weekend magazine: Amanda Hughen, Binary Convergence, 14x48 foot billboard)

For "Fantastic Logic, Speculative Models," Carin Mincemoyer and Amanda Hughen make works of sparkling beauty that deal with some fairly daunting, even depressing themes. Hughen paints and draws on transparent Mylar, creating milky stratospheres in which colorful cells and topographical maps bounce about. All these forms look perfectly benign, but who's to say they aren't deadly -- the virus that will eventually wipe out humanity, for example, or a chart of the inevitable earthquake that will sink half our continent? Hughen deploys the graphic language of science to explore the dialectical relationship between beauty and death, promise and threat. These are delicate, magical works, and if they foretell the end of the world, they do so in the prettiest way possible.


KNOEDLER CATALOGUE, Friday,October 9, 2009

Excerpt from the catalogue, Sid Garrison / Amanda Hughen: Drawings, essay by Marella Consolini 

It’s impossible to look at Hughen’s drawings and not make associations, but there is no definitive answer, no right or wrong, and that ambiguity pleases her. She watches Novaand reads science books (might her pictures depict cellular creation, or destruction? Biological growth, or decay? Perhaps its the moment when they meet – but with a crash, or a kiss?) Since the mid-’90s, she has haunted flea markets for engineering and architectural templates (no longer needed by architects, the computer has made them obsolete). Tracing the shapes repeatedly, and welcoming the accidents that her hand creates, it is this geometry that forms the basis for the organic shapes in her drawings. She is a close observer of her immediate, urban landscape as well (a landscape made of geometric shapes: sidewalks, streets, buildings). She works fast, moving around her studio like a dancer, turning one sheet of film over to draw while another dries. In Hughen’s drawings, as with dance, there is much to be felt in the spaces between the movements. 


TIME OUT CHICAGO, July 2009, Tuesday,June 9, 2009

Excerpt from the article Golden Ratio at David Weinberg Gallery by Lauren Weinberg

"Amanda Hughen paints the prettiest germs. Of course, though the San Francisco–based artist gives her recent mixed-media works on drafting film suggestive names like Consumptia (pictured) and Polyviral, their organic forms are unlikely to visit your day-old tacos. Thanks to their complexity, Hughen’s abstract, biomorphic shapes fascinate. Cell-like structures executed in pencil, ink and paint—primarily in girly hues of pink, purple and turquoise—overlap. The artist works on both sides of her translucent vellum and often layers multiple sheets, embedding a dizzying range of colors and textures in each piece."


ARTWEEK, Thursday,November 22, 2007

Excerpt from Transtructural at Johansson Projects by DeWitt Cheng (Image: Cover of Artweek: Amanda Hughen, Feastory)

Hughen's drawings filter artistic improvisation through what would appear (to those of a painterly and expressionist bent) a procrustean formal regimen. The slight fading and halation of colored pencil and silk-screened lines as seen through the translucent film allows her work to breathe in a shallow pictorial space, as if submerged in or occluded by water or atmosphere; we also think of the gradation of focus in microscopes and sonograms, in which a slight adjustment in focus moves you in or out in visual space. This initial drawing she then modifies and elaborates; in some works she draws cartoonish blobs, like chromosomes, in pentagonal clusters; in others she creates floral motifs with densely packed lines/stamens terminated with pollen-like dots of acrylic paint. The effect is partly an image of Creation (like the recent Big Bang astrophysical photos), and partly a metaphor for spontaneous growth (or perhaps creativity). Hughen's imaginative portmanteau word titles reflect this multivalence: Andromatic, Feastory, Engorget and Relevation yield varying and contradictory associations; in a radiating, centerless, protoplasmic universe, everything gets along and coexists.


ART & ANTIQUES, Saturday,June 9, 2007

Excerpt from Strange Forces: Four Painters Create, Emerging Artist, Art & Antiques, byJoseph Jacobs

Hughen's imagery is simultaneously scientific, synthetic and organic, but its essence is its ethereal beauty. Hughen is making some of the densest art produced today, layering pattern upon pattern and color upon color, creating multiple levels for viewers to excavate visually.

When Hughen begins her paintings, she has no preconceived notion of what the final image will be. Her imagery suggests landscapes, cellular forms, strange plant life and oceanic islands seen from high above. They are simultaneously scientific, synthetic and organic. But their essence is their ethereal beauty, brought about by a delicate linearity as well as gossamer-thin layers of pigment.



Excerpt from Object Lessons: A Topology that Pleases, by Jerry Cullum

Amanda Hughen's drawings on Mylar take their images from biology, architecture, geology and topology. "Managed Disclosure" is purely abstract in that the forms don't literally refer to any of the sources that inspired them. Yet the piece is vaguely topological and, less vaguely, biological, suggesting cell division, mapping of terrain and the complex petals and flowerheads of certain plant species.

It isn't any of these things, however. It's an image that functions on its own, and as such it represents purely the things that happen when complementary and contrasting colors are put together with lines borrowed from various academic disciplines from mathematics to biological illustration. Like the San Francisco artist's other works, "Managed Disclosure" is aesthetically seductive; smart in its selection of bits of the world, it is singularly beautiful in the everyday sense of that word.

FIRMAMENT CATALOGUE, Wednesday,November 9, 2005

Excerpt from Firmament: Amanda Hughen and Arngunnur Yr, by Patricia Maloney

The marks Hughen makes are repetitive, uniform, and mechanical. The artist strives to remove herself — her hand, her judgment, her experiences — from their creation, allowing the process to take over and this new world to form its own geological history. Bunched together, the shapes coalesce into undulating and overlapping patterns that resemble eons of physical upheaval compressed into a single space and moment.

Multiple histories collapse and intertwine upon each other.... Unfettered by scale, these panoramas are as intimate as they are vast.... We as viewers are caught between a state of suspension and submersion, hovering above these topographies and crashing down into them when we shift from observing the whole in order to focus on a detail.


Excerpt from Far Away Nearby, Berkeley Art Museum, by Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson

Amanda Hughen’s works suggest material confusion: Are these works hanging on and off the walls made of paper? Are they drawings? Objects? This mutation continues onto the surfaces of the pieces with the application of screenprinting, contact paper, and the use of wood-graining tools. The works are filled with marks, all of which are taken from architectural templates; there are no freehand gestures. Using found objects such as the bright plastic grass included with take-out sushi, hair extensions, an office carpet sample, packing materials, or a plastic log casing, she reinvents these items by burying them under rectangular incisions in the thick, semi-opaque material.