Janet Davidson-Hues



Punch Line (installation) by Janet Davidson-Hues


Punch Line (gloves detail) by Janet Davidson-Hues


Punch Line (bell detail) by Janet Davidson-Hues

Janet Davidson-Hues (American, b. 1944)

Punch Line, 2006

Vintage boxing gloves with text, antique boxing ring bell, dimensions variable

Lawrence-based artist Janet Davidson-Hues is known for her multimedia installations, paintings, and performance pieces that explore aspects of contemporary women’s experience. Words and texts play a prominent role in her art, as she investigates what she calls “the interaction, the dependency, the clash, and the collaboration between women and their language.” In Punch Line, Davidson-Hues weaves her penchant for wordplay with early memories of watching boxing matches with her father. In this multimedia installation, 34 vintage boxing gloves dangle in pairs from ropes hung from the ceiling in a square formation, suggesting a boxing ring in the center of the room. Two high-backed sofas enclose the space below the gloves.

A functioning boxing bell on the west wall completes the installation. These elements combine to create an interactive space, drawing the viewer in as a participant. Various expressions relating to boxing but given a feminine twist, such as “she took it on the chin,” or “beat him to the punch," are stenciled in different typefaces on the surface of each glove. The artist deliberately juxtaposes the gloves, which symbolize the violence of a male-dominated sport, against the feminine gendered texts that adorn their surface. Through this combination, Punch Line becomes a performative arena that invites viewers to question the supposed neutrality of familiar sayings and to consider how words can have an impact as forceful as a boxer’s punch.

Biography

Janet Davidson-Hues was born in Baltimore, Maryland. She earned her BA from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC (1966), an MA from Columbia University in New York, NY (1972), and an MFA from the University of Kansas (1992). She is a former assistant professor of art at Indiana State University, where she taught visual and performance art. She has participated in more than 100 international and national exhibitions and has given lectures at various universities and art centers, speaking about her work and issue-oriented art.

— Natasha Welsh, MA student in art history at the University of Kansas, April 2019

KU School of Business Art Collection