Covid Projects: Rohina Hoffman: In Gratitude
The pandemic brought a host of pivots to Rohina Hoffman‘s family. Children who were ending high school, preparing for college in the fall, had the rug pulled out from underneath them. Hoffman’s husband, a doctor, now faced a world of medicine filled with worry and stress. What kept them afloat were the family dinners, prepared with a consciousness to their food and how it came to their table. Her project, In Gratitude, is a collection of portraits, of family members and food, combined with poetry that speaks to her appreciation for simple things like a golden peach on a hot summer’s day. This work is currently part of The Year of Not Knowing Exhibition and Hoffman will be doing an artist talk on her work tonight, February 16, 2021. You can register at here. An image from this project was also juried into DAB Art’s Art in the time of Corona online exhibition. It is also available on Artsy.
Hoffman speaks to her practice here: The complexity of human existence is my core interest as a photographic artist. I am deeply curious about people and what defines their thoughts, actions, and emotions and how they relate to others and our world. I aim to capture the nuances and complications of this presence and the quieter moments of self- reflection, the seemingly small gestures, glances, body language, that which is unique, vulnerable and emotive about an individual.
Rohina Hoffman is a fine art photographer whose practice uses portraiture and the natural world to investigate themes of identity, home, women’s issues, and adolescence.
Born in India and raised in New Jersey, Rohina grew up in a family of doctors spanning three generations. While an undergraduate at Brown University, Rohina also studied photography at the Rhode Island School of Design and she was a staff photographer for the Brown Daily Herald. A graduate of Brown University Medical School and resident at UCLA Medical Center, her training led to a career as a neurologist.
A skilled observer of her patients, Rohina was instilled with a deep and unique appreciation of the human experience. Her ability to forge the sacred trust between doctor and patient has been instrumental in fostering a parallel connection between photographer and subject.
Rohina published her first monograph Hair Stories with Damiani Editore (February 2019) accompanied by a solo exhibition at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School. Hair Stories is held in many public collections and university libraries.
Her photographs have been exhibited in juried group shows both nationally and internationally in venues such as The Center for Fine Art Photography, Griffin Museum, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Los Angeles Center for Photography, Photo LA, and A. Smith Gallery and she has received numerous awards. She has been published in Marie Claire Italia, F-Stop Magazine, Lenscratch, Shots Magazine, and Edge of Humanity among others. She lives with her husband, three children and two golden retrievers in Los Angeles.
In Gratitude is an homage to food and family. Created during the pandemic, it is a series of portraits of myself, my husband, and my three children showcasing the items that we use to produce our daily meals. Inspired by Pablo Neruda’s Elemental Odes, I included my own poetry to celebrate and memorialize the everyday.
Prior to Covid-19, I was ambivalent about cooking. I sometimes viewed it as a chore to even think about what to create, and at other times I relished the opportunity to make a beautiful near-gourmet meal. But what lay behind my desire was to be the perfect parent. This was often thwarted with the reality of schedules, work, and external demands.
Covid-19 changed the way I approached our dinners. They became the highlight of our day and I was more thoughtful in my shopping and preparing. Perhaps if I could at least nourish my family, then somehow, we could be safe.
Despite the uncertainty and fear we feel because of the pandemic, it has enabled me to see my gratitude more clearly, allowing me to honor the foods we eat through the creation of these portraits. I also learned to embrace the imperfections in myself so I could fully enjoy these moments before us.
In the words of MFK Fisher, “our three basic needs, for food, security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined, that we cannot straightly think about one without the others.”.
steamed artichoke with aromatics
clip worn cellulose
lemon, garlic, one bay leaf
the midwives tending
pose thistle inside
steamer basket, boil and deliver
a jade heart beating
crisp the whole grain bread
crush avocado, refresh
with a squeeze of lime
paint onto base
eclipse with sliced radishes
a fried egg sunrise
sun gold summer’s smile
the stone inside, an urchin
hiding its worry
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