BATAVIA — Nate Hodge left college after one semester, choosing life outside of the classroom as his most influential art teacher.
He did it after taking advice he received from his professors quite literally.
“Lots of things I heard there were that the most important thing to an artist is to have life experiences, and I thought I didn’t need school for that,” he said.
But after a decade of holding jobs like selling shoes, renting tuxedos, painting houses and landscaping, he finally returned to school with a renewed focus on his art. Having earned his master’s degree earlier this year from the University at Buffalo, he is now combining what he has learned in and out of the classroom in his art.
“With my paintings, I try to understand things through their temporality,” he said. “How I paint begins with what I observe happening around me, observations which can come from nearly anything.”
Hodge will show his work, which he describes as an invading alien organism spreading across the surface from a colonizing mark, in the exhibit “Everything Flows” at Genesee Community College’s Rosalie “Roz” Steiner Art Gallery. The show opens Oct. 8 with an artist talk at 12:30 p.m. and receptions from 1 to 2 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. that same day. It closes Nov. 13.
Hodge’s art is defined more by his creative process than it’s look. His paintings incorporate layers of different styles melding into one abstract landscape.
“Every piece ends up flowing into the other one,” he explained Tuesday as he hung his paintings in the gallery. “It’s paint, so there’s a lot of movement. It’s also the idea of liquid flowing energies.”
As Hodge arranged more than 30 paintings of myriad sizes, he pointed out that some of the canvases are more than a decade old with several pre-existing paintings lying underneath the upper-most layer. When studying this Hodge’s paintings, one can see elements of futurism, post-impressionism, and Japanese landscape, as well as geometry.
“It’s like putting it all in a blender, spinning it all up and spitting it back out,” he said.
Hodge has first developed his love of art during high school, when his mother arranged for him to receive private lessons. He later attended the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, before finally earning his bachelor’s degree from Brockport State College. It was there that he met Mary Jo Whitman, director of the Steiner gallery.
“It’s just very unique,” Whitman said of Hodge’s art. “I love the different layering. Sometimes, I find myself starring at it and trying to figure out which layer is on top. I like that is has kind of a graffiti feel to it. He’s bringing that feel into the gallery, which is different.”
Hodge still believes that life experiences are key for any artist and said that is a message he will pass along to the GCC students who view his exhibit.
“It’s not just sitting there and drawing, it’s based on experiences that happen outside of the studio and outside of the classroom,” he said. “Sometimes you have to take a chance on following whatever you’re passionate about.”