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Omaha Magazine

Guiding Light

Feb 09, 2016 09:05AM ● By James Walmsley

For someone who has been on the move her entire life, traversing states, countries, and continents; for someone who admittedly feels most comfortable in motion; for someone whose aesthetic demands the diversification of space, installation artist Jamie Danielle Hardy has spent a suspiciously long time in one spot.

Though if you ask her, it's been her boldest move to date.

“I think in the past year I’ve found that maybe ‘moving on’ for me is staying and accepting where I am,” Hardy, 30, says with a Zen-like air after contemplating her last decade in Omaha.

Besides, Hardy says she's finally found a true home in the city's arts community: She's the co-founder of Benson First Fridays, she's the co-founder of the Benson Petshop art gallery/workspace, and she's recently been named a Best New Media Artist nominee for the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards.

It's the sort of workload and support, she says, that has validated her continuing artistic study of transparency and "the way light interacts with something in space.

“Especially with installation, any space you have your work within changes the piece, because lighting will always be different,” Hardy explains about her particular fascination with the art form. “So it’s defined by its space, but it’s also acting as itself in that space.”

Of course, there's a metaphor somewhere in her jargon, and it's not lost on Hardy. The artist says she's hardly the same person who first encountered the corn-colored skies of Nebraska some 10 years before; who arrived in Omaha a recluse from a lifetime on the road, which demanded she leave a good friend behind every year or two.

"I just stopped really communicating," she says, reflecting back on one of her darker shades. "The only way I did was through art."

And then there was the car accident she had hoped to forget—the collision with a dump truck that claimed the life of Hardy's high school boyfriend in 2002 and wiped fragments of her memory from that tragic day. That was still very much on her mind, too, she says.

"That loss and the loss of friends and places due to moving is the reason that my work tends to focus on memory," Hardy confesses, citing 2010's "Dumptruck Breakdown"—a series of slightly disheveled light boxes illuminating the menacing grill of a dump truck's facade—as the first installation to emanate a self-healing theme.

"Dealing with the image of the dump truck over and over again helped me to face that past trauma head-on," she adds.

These days, Hardy's palette goes beyond her own memories. Her brush strokes are often found footage that she projects onto dead flower petals and shards of broken mirrors. All of which transcends the three-dimensional canvas of space with the addition of time or memory. Her works seem to be forever installed and installing.

And Hardy says she's forever learning with each installation she creates.

“It’s definitely always a sounding board. It’s always therapeutic," she says. "But I always in the end just want to make a beautiful piece that transitions into the world in a way that people can approach it and react to it in their own way.”

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