First Hammond P.3+ citywide art exhibit closes

After showcased local, regional, national and international artists Hammond’s first P.3+ citywide exhibit, came to a close this past weekend. 

The exhibit was hosted by the Hammond Regional Arts Center in coordination with the New Orleans International Contemporary Art Biennial Prospect.3. The P.3+ exhibit, which lasted from Oct. 25 to Jan. 25, featured paintings, sculptures, giant inflatable art sculptures and more around downtown Hammond. 

“I was pleased to see P.3+ and the New Orleans Art communities embrace Hammond and the other towns and cities in Louisiana in new, amazing ways,” said Patty McGehee, one artist whose screen prints were featured. “It gave a chance for a huge number of Hammond artists who are rarely seen by our community to have places to hang their art for the first time.”

The exhibits shined light on Hammond as an art community and helped support not only guest artists from the region, but locals like McGehee.

“After my venue closed down the first Friday night in December, I ventured out to see the whole P.3+ experience and felt that Hammond was no longer an isolated entity,” said McGehee. “We are connected to the Louisiana art world like never before. I see that as a very good thing, and I am looking forward to the future growth of the Hammond art world.” 

The work shown was diverse and often nontraditional. The many artists found by the coordinator of the event, Mike Kilgore, executive director of HRAC, added a unique piece to the collaboration.

“It was very progressive. HRAC did a great job scouting artist,” said Heather Vallaire, featured artist and Southeastern alumna. “I think it brought a real flavor, a melting pot of art, downtown.”

One of the highlighted displays during the period of P.3+ was “Giants in the City,” an outdoor exhibit featuring giant inflatable art sculptures created by a group of international artists. “Giants in the City” emphasizes the importance of art in an urban area and offers the community a unique art experience. The pieces were inflated by a small electric generator and reached up to 45 feet in height.

Many of the artists expressed a deeper meaning and inspiration behind their piece. Southeastern art professor John Valentino, whose piece “Flight of the Wetlands” was exhibited, explained that the fish were a metaphor for the wetlands and the health of the wetlands reflected the health of the fish, along with mans interference in nature.

“You’ve got these fish swimming in a formation, swimming in the school. But where are they? They’re trapped within these metal cages. They’re constantly being interfered with, being managed by man,” said Valentino. “I kept on playing with the mode of representing them, and I wanted them partially mediated by the human hand. They needed to be in a big metal box. They just needed it. They needed to be harsh.”

Vallaire used her pieces “Manipulation” and “A Show of Hand” to express the struggle of being an artist with a hand deformity caused by radial aplasia. 

The sculpture “Manipulation” addresses the anonymous publics’ curiosity and doubts of how she works with her physical condition. 

“The entire motivation of my work is the unwanted curiosity of the public,” said Vallaire. “I know people are looking at me, whether it’s curiosity or uncomfortableness. Having this installed allowed people interaction and addresses that curiosity.”

Vallaire’s sculptures show a mold of her hands using different objects, such as a coke can and pan. The sculptures represent how she manipulates objects in order to use them.

“It began with mass-producing the replicas of my hands through a rubber mold process and then a casting process,” said Vallaire. “Then I realized it would be a lot of fun to put them on things that I interact with as a way to represent the way that people with deformities have to manipulate with objects. It’s called “Manipulation” because it is a physical representation of me manipulating objects in my world.”

As P.3+ wrapped up, so did Prospect.3 in New Orleans. Prospect.4 is slated to open fall of 2017. Kilgore, as well as several artists involved, have hopes of P.4+ opening along with it.