It’s hard to stand out as an artist these days. But John Hitchcock seems to have found a way. By using printmaking, installations, video art, digital images and collaborating with other artists, Hitchcock creatively expresses his political views through his artwork.
“How do we decode the constant bombardment of information? What is the truth behind the image?” Hitchcock said. “What’s being targeted and who is the target?”
Hitchcock gave a presentation at the Fleming Law building Tuesday to show his work and speak about its significance. He will also be going to dinner with some CU art students and give them individual critiques.
Senior art majors Jon Geiger, 22, a senior studio arts major and Dillon O’Kelley, 24, a photography major, are in a seminar class where they go to the visiting artist lectures and speak with the artists afterward.
Geiger is majoring in sculpture and ceramics and said he admires Hitchcock’s work, although their areas of study are totally different. O’Kelley said he thinks Hitchcock’s work on the casualties of war is an interesting subject, adding he thought it would be “glorious” to collaborate with Hitchcock.
When asked about the importance of art, O’Kelley’s answer was quite simple.
“I can’t imagine the world without it,” O’Kelley said.
Growing up next to Fort Sill in the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma, Hitchcock said he has vivid memories of helicopters flying overhead and soldiers playing war games in the forest behind his parent’s house. These memories, along with a deep fascination with war and politics, have strongly influenced his artwork. Hitchcock uses animals, guns and toy soldiers with targets printed on them in his pieces, often with heavy words like “sacrifice,” “blame,” “sexism” and “fear” printed in the background.
Society is constantly being bombarded with mixed messages of violence, war and politics that Hitchcock portrays in his work. In collaboration with Matt Wead and Federico Signorelli, Hitchcock came up with a piece titled “Blancos.” This was a daring but effective portrayal of the effects of war. Images from World War II and Francisco Goya’s “The Third of May 1808” were shown alongside a flashing deep red backdrop. Tango music mixed with music from the metal band Slayer played in the background of the piece. This short collage of images serve as a wake-up call to the harsh realities of the casualties of war.
In another project, Hitchcock and other artists traveled on a train from Poland to Germany. During their trip the artists took various printings, hung them on a rope with clothespins and walked through the aisle stringing the rope along with them. These prints were showing how art can influence change and make a difference in the world.
One of the audience members asked Hitchcock if he ever gets negative reactions from his observers, considering the controversial content of some of the images he displays. Surprisingly, Hitchcock said he has never had anyone be negative or disrespectful towards his art.
Joseph Smith, a 19-year-old sophomore double majoring with studio art and pre-med, said he liked Hitchcock’s work but would have done things a little differently himself.
“I really liked that he was so involved in education,” Smith said. “He was very well presented and well spoken.”
Although Smith is not a political artist, he said he believes it would be a lot of fun to collaborate with Hitchcock and other artists.
“It would be interesting and foreign, yet still your own,” Smith said.
Hitchcock said he believes in the importance of education and history. The advice he gave to students is to listen to critiques, to keep working at their art and to stay committed. He also acknowledged the value of history and the work that has come before his.
“We are visitors wherever we go,” Hitchcock said. “History before ours still exists and we must honor that.”
To see Hitchcock’s “Blancos” piece, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9SnaNdaMMs.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Amanda Dovel at Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org.