Sarah Hobbs: Modern Angst

“Sarah Hobbs’s work explores and gives form to various human behaviors and compulsions. She carefully stages and photographs scenes that are meant to embody phobias, neuroses, and obsessions. Her intricate tableaus are simultaneously profound and witty, reflecting Hobbs’s understanding of human psychology. In her renderings of personality traits, ranging from nosiness to overcompensation, she depicts only the objects and backdrops that indicate these characteristics, never specific people. In Untitled (Perfectionist), for example, a freshly dented seat cushion and towering mess of crumpled paper suggest that the creator, frustrated by false starts, may have just exited the scene. By refusing to identify the behavior with a particular person, Hobbs suggests that human idiosyncrasies are as universally experienced as they are individually unique.

While working on her master’s degree at the University of Georgia, Athens, Hobbs began producing strangely inviting images that implicate her viewers as participants. Her most recent series, pointedly titled Does This Sound Like You?, uses an imagined Periodic Table of the Traits, which indexes a full range of unappealing personality traits and the various discomfort levels associated with them. Periodic Table also relates to her earlier series Small Problems in Living, which gives form to daily annoyances. Hobbs visually articulates these seemingly small problems with big gestures: for example, a claustrophobic space filled with an infinite number of paint swatches symbolizes the terrifying indecision that might be provoked by the task of choosing a wall color. Hobbs’s photographs render problems that may be invisible to others, creating imaginative visual metaphors for experiences that are at once abnormal and altogether commonplace.”

Katherine A. Bussard, Assistant Curator of Photography

The Art Institute of Chicago


 Sarah Hobbs’s photographs may be found in important public collections such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX.  She holds a BA in Art History and a MFA in Photography from the University of Georgia.  Her work has been reviewed in national publications such as Art in America and Artpapers.  The artist lives and works in Atlanta, GA.

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