In the Studio: Anna Sew Hoy

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When Anna Sew Hoy moved into the Highland Park bungalow she shares with her husband in fall 2008, she brought her studio — formerly housed in the Women’s Building on Spring Street — with her. Rather than landing in a garage or sectioned off back room, however, it gradually spidered out across the property. “It’s decentralized,” she says. “I have a studio there,” she points to the front bedroom, “where I make things, and then I have a dirty place in the back, a wood shop, and then I have a room over there that’s white, where I just look at stuff. But it took a while to figure that out.’

From a seat at her dining room table, one glimpses her sculptures comfortably woven into the ambience of the house: a hive-like bundle of ceramic, fabric and twine hanging among the plants in the greenhouse alcove; a wall-mounted shield on the living room wall, dotted with finger-shaped hooks intended to serve as jewelry holders; loosely hexagonal ceramic “paperweights” scattered between picture frames on the mantelpiece.

A graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York and the Bard College MFA program, the 34-year-old artist works in familiar, even mundane materials, often intertwining ceramic forms with fabrics (especially denim), metal elements, wood, rubber, mirrors and commonplace items such as necklace chains, sunglasses and cellphone cords. In many cases, as in her memorable installation of sculptures in the Hammer Museum’s “Eden’s Edge” show in 2007 as well as the pieces now scattered about her house, the works assume a domestic scale; they are objects conceived to be integrated into the everyday — a stand on which to hang your jewelry, for instance, or “that little table sculpture next to your computer that you look at every day when you’re doing your e-mail.” She’s fascinated, she says, with quotidian objects and the relationships we forge with them.

“Like when I was a kid,” she says, “loving my Mickey Mouse so much. You invest all this emotional intention and physical touch into this one object. Or like in high school, your boyfriend’s sweater or something. You feel like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I love this thing. I love my mug that I use every day for coffee, every morning as my ritual.’ It’s about how these things get into the weave of your daily life to where you don’t even notice it.”


To read the full In the Studio feature from the Arts & Books section, click here.