Some artists have a preternatural ability to elevate everyday materials—bits of mirror, hardware-store chains, silk flowers—and create works of astonishing beauty. Such is Jim Hodge’s talent; in his hands, the odds and ends of the world are rearranged just so, becoming transportive objects that reveal the hidden divine all around us.

I visited the Hammer Museum in west LA to take in the largest show of  the artist’s work to date, Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take. Featuring over 75 works created since 1987, it offered a rare and exciting look at a fairly comprehensive selection from his body of work.

Among his chosen themes, the Washington-born 57-year-old has focused on the temporality of life and timelessness of love. His work often straddles a fine line incorporating the delicate and the indestructible: a breathtaking seascape rendered in tough denim cloth; a spider’s web fashioned out of store-bought chains; a camouflage-print canvas embroidered with brightly coloured flowers; and a shattered mosaic mirror emitting a cascade of shimmering light.

gate

 Untitled (Gate), 1991, Hodges’ first large-scale exploration of his often-used web motif, in steel, aluminum, copper, brass, paint and electric lighting

IMG_2971

 Influenced by the writings of Abbott Handerson Thayer, the “father of camouflage,” Hodges created this embroidered fabric work, All in the Field. Thayer was a landscape painter whose theories on animal concealment in nature greatly influenced the creation of camouflage at the outset of WWI.

IMG_2968

 Changing Things, 1997, a wall-sized installation of silk, plastic, wire and pins

IMG_2983

 Sweet-smelling and enticing to enter, upon stepping through the swinging doors of the wooden room that comprises The Dark Gate, viewers are confronted with the menacing configuration of steel spikes that forms the rear wall of the box (photographed here from the rear outside).

He and I

 The artist’s work has often examined gay identity and the AIDS crisis. Here, the Sol Lewitt-esque He and I, 1998, prismacolor pencil on wall

IMG_2999

 Picturing: Tracing Form, 2004; cast crystal

IMG_3004

Incorporating his use of immersive installations as well as gold leaf, And still this, 2005 – 8; gold on gessoed linen screens

IMG_2993

 The showstopping denim tapestry, One Day it All Comes True, 2013. The artist discusses the work below:

After touring the Dallas Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Institute of Contemporary Art BostonGive More Than You Take will remain in Los Angeles on view through January 18, 2015.