Thursday, February 23, 2017

John Hitchcock: Print Spirit Keeper

After viewing John Hitchcock's prints and installations, one is left with an understanding of things not necessarily in today's highly charged public eye, but we left with a knowledge of atrocities from the past and imminent danger of the future. Hitchcock's work brings out the ghosts and fears of our past. He presents images of desecrated animals as decaying hunting trophies, and contrasts them against objects of mass destruction which threaten our planet. His is challenging work, not only for its subject, but for the thoughtful and engaging manner of his installations which wrap around rooms and cover floor to ceiling.

The spirits invoked by his portraits of animals long since hunted, killed and kept a a sort of trophy or headdress used in spiritual ceremonies call us to acknowledge their spirit and power and place in the world which is diminished from their loss. His contrasted use of flat images of bombs and tanks with the animals speaks about the destruction of the natural world. If the animals aren't able to be respected or saved, then we are not far behind them. I believe Hitchcock is amply using the print medium to communicate his concerns about social and political issues. The refreshingly interactive elements of his installations activate the room and bring printmaking, and its relevance as an art form, to the present day. He is challenging our notions of the 2-dimensional aspects of the medium to enliven and shake up our antiquated sensibilities about what the medium can do. Bravo! Here's to hoping Hitchcock continues to bring his messages about hope and destruction to greater and greater audiences as his career develops.


John Hitchcock was born and raised around Lawton, Oklahoma. He earned his MFA in printmaking and photography at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas and received his BFA from Cameron University, in Lawton, Oklahoma.
He is currently an Artist and Associate Professor of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.



Hitchcock’s artwork is deeply informed by his personal biography and family history. He grew up in western Oklahoma on Comanche tribal lands in the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma next to Ft Sill, a US field artillery military base. Fort Sill was originally established in 1869 to wage battles against American Indians.


Hitchcock’s mother is of Comanche and Kiowa ancestry, a descendant of the indigenous Plains tribes affected by the federal government’s systematic policy of forced removal and relocation. The artist’s parents met when his father served at Fort Sill. Raised in this area, Hitchcock was exposed to the training activities at the base, which sensitized him to an American culture of violence and military action.



Hitchcock uses the print medium with its long history of social and political commentary to explore relationships of community, land, and culture. Images of U.S. military weaponry are combined with mythological hybrid creatures from the Wichita Mountains of western Oklahoma to explore notions of assimilation and control. He explores notions of good, evil, death, and life cycles. His depictions of beasts, animals, and machines act as a metaphors for human behavior and cycles of violence. His artwork is a response to human behavior towards nature and other people.



Hitchcock’s current artwork consists of mythological hybrid creatures (buffalo, wolf, boar, deer, moose) and military weaponry (tanks and helicopters) based on his childhood memories. He depicts stylized skulls of animal heads - buffalo, horse, and deer—that represent departed family members, and are linked to American Indian folklore passed down through his ancestors. The work reflects on communities and traditions disrupted by war and cultural genocide.



Awards:
The American Photography Institute
Jerome Foundation grant
National Graduate Seminar Fellowship at New York University
Tisch School of Arts
Vilas Associate Grant at University of Wisconsin-Madison



Exhibitions:
Argentina
Brazil
Chile
Egypt
Estonia
England
Germany
Ireland
New Zealand
Palestine
Poland
South Africa
Spain
Sweden
United States

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