LEWISTON — Salt is a lot of things.
First and foremost it’s a foodstuff, a flavor enhancer, a preservative. Doctors might advise you to stay away from it, fancy chefs may have a wide selection of it on hand in their kitchens. It can be mixed with water and administered intravenously to treat dehydration. It’s even been used as a form of currency.
And Jody Hanson has used it as her preferred medium for her latest exhibition, “Imperfect,” a TopSpin series show at the Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University, up through Jan. 12.
The Buffalo resident began her salt drawing series in 2003 when she was living in Salem, Mass., working on the grand re-opening of the Peabody Essex Museum. She spent her evenings mixing solutions of salt — regular table salt, grey Celtic salt and reddish Hawaiian salt — with water. She applied the solutions using paintbrushes and eyedroppers on watercolor paper — which is sturdy enough not to buckle too much when wet — and would wait until morning when the water evaporated to see what formed.
“I was just experimenting with the salt,” Hanson said. “I picked that medium because it as the property of its own motion as it recrystallizes.
“It’s a material that naturally does something on its own” as the water evaporates and the salt recrystallizes into its own, natural structure.
It’s that pure use of salt that Michael Beam, curator of exhibitions and collections at the Castellani, said made him and the TopSpin selection committee want to include her show in the series.
“What first drew me to Jody’s work, to be honest, is that it’s salt and I love salt. I love to eat salt and I love to look at salt and it’s incredibly bad for you in the long run. I’ve always had an attraction, literally, to salt,” he said.