Loie Hollowell, Eight Centimeters Dilated, August 7, 2023 © Loie Hollowell, courtesy Pace Gallery

Loie Hollowell

Dilation Stage

Mar 8 – Apr 20, 2024
New York
Opening Reception
Mar 7, 2024
6 – 8 PM
Exhibition Details

Loie Hollowell
Dilation Stage
Mar 8 – Apr 20, 2024


540 West 25th Street
New York


Press Release


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Above: Loie Hollowell, Eight Centimeters Dilated, August 7, 2023 © Loie Hollowell, courtesy Pace Gallery

Pace is pleased to present Dilation Stage, an exhibition of new large-scale drawings by Loie Hollowell, at its 540 West 25th Street gallery in New York from March 8 to April 20.

This presentation marks Hollowell’s second solo show with Pace in New York and her first exhibition in the city dedicated exclusively to her works on paper. Dilation Stage will coincide with her first museum survey, on view at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut through August 11.

Hollowell is known for her otherworldly paintings and drawings of bodily landscapes. Through a unique lexicon of geometric and organic forms that represent elements of her body, the artist explores experiences of sex, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and motherhood. Manipulating real and illusory space on the canvas, she uses radiant colors, varied textures, and protruding sculptural elements to draw viewers into her energetic compositions.

In her upcoming show with Pace in New York, Hollowell will present ten new pastel drawings that document the dilation stage of labor, in which the cervix opens and effaces from one to ten centimeters, allowing the baby to move into the birth canal. Displayed sequentially on a rounded wall that reflects the shape of a pregnant belly, these drawings feature, at their centers, depictions of Hollowell’s own pregnant abdomen, rendered to scale. Below each belly is a circle the exact size of the effaced cervix as it expands. Meanwhile, radiating bands of color—which represent the increasingly intense pain of contractions during the dilation stage—fill the spaces around the bellies. In each composition, these rippling colors respond to the hue of the swollen wombs from which they emanate— Hollowell assigns light colors to minimally painful contractions, while intensely painful contractions take on dark colors. The cervical “circles” at the bottom of each drawing seem to pulse as the series progresses, culminating in a blazing cadmium red.

For this body of work, in which color is a highly charged force, Hollowell adopts a wide ranging palette to express the mental and physical sensations she has experienced while giving birth. “When the first contractions started with each of my pregnancies, I was filled with joy and excitement that I would soon be meeting my baby,” Hollowell says. “I rendered this stage in yellow, like the sun on a cloudless day, full of light and optimism. As my cervix dilated, the pain became increasingly intense and sharp, so I moved into bright, deep reds for that stage. My second birth was at home in a birthing tub—I was enveloped in buoyant, luke-warm water while also having this searing and heavy pain. I felt only an ultramarine blue could rightfully signify that experience.”

In addition to these drawings, the exhibition will include a unique birthing bench that Hollowell created collaboratively with her husband, sculptor Brian Caverly. The history of the birthing chair—which has been used by women in labor throughout millennia—extends all the way back to 1450 BCE Egypt. In Caverly and Hollowell’s rendition, which visitors are invited to sit on, space is created not just for the birther, but also for the partner, midwife, doula, doctor, or any other witness to the transcendent journey of birth.

Later this year, Pace will present an exhibition of new paintings by Hollowell at its Los Angeles gallery. Details about this presentation will be announced in due course.


About the Artist

Loie Hollowell is recognized for her paintings that evoke bodily landscapes, using geometric shapes to move a figure or its actions into abstraction. Her work explores themes of sexuality, often through allusions to the human form with an emphasis on women’s bodies.

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