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Groundbreaking Artist Sculpts Collegiate Minds

Published: October 06, 2017
Tim Hawkinson met with students on Thursday and Friday to talk about his work and to collaborate, along with Associate Professor Kendra Frorup, on a piece. Photo courtesy of Assistant Professor Jaime Johnson
Tim Hawkinson met with students on Thursday and Friday to talk about his work and to collaborate, along with Associate Professor Kendra Frorup, on a piece. Photo courtesy of Assistant Professor Jaime Johnson
Gimbled Klein Basket, 2007, made of bamboo, glue, wood, Plexiglass, Bondo, motor, pulley and drive belt, is one of the works featured in Tim Hawkinson: BodyCon, a solo exhibition. Photo courtesy of Assistant Professor Jaime Johnson
Gimbled Klein Basket, 2007, made of bamboo, glue, wood, Plexiglass, Bondo, motor, pulley and drive belt, is one of the works featured in Tim Hawkinson: BodyCon, a solo exhibition. Photo courtesy of Assistant Professor Jaime Johnson

Fine art major John Guarneri ’18 studied groundbreaking artist Tim Hawkinson’s work in a contemporary class at UT. But on Thursday, Guarneri’s research became three-dimensional. He was one of a handful of his peers, as well as Associate Professor Kendra Frorup, collaborating on a piece with Hawkinson, who has an exhibition opening today in the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery.

Tim Hawkinson: BodyCon, is a solo exhibition showcasing unique works of variable media from throughout the artist’s career. The exhibition runs from Oct. 6–Nov. 3, with an opening reception on Friday, Oct. 6, at 8 p.m.

Hawkinson said he doesn’t often work with students, but he enjoys the energy they bring.

“I’m trying to give of my time and listen to them,” he said. “A lot of it is just talking about my own work, but I hope it resonates with them, and they’ll come up with stuff that they feel strongly about not just trying to mimic what I do.”

Hawkinson’s idiosyncratic creations are meditations on nature, machines, mortality, the body and human consciousness. Since the 1980s, the artist has used common found and store-bought materials, handcrafted objects and machines to shift familiar subject matter off-kilter, constructing visual conundrums and conceits imbued with deeper meaning.

The artist’s inventive works range in size from monumental kinetic and sound-producing sculptures to almost microscopic pieces fabricated from such unassuming materials as eggshells and electrical cords.

“The idea that every object has potential to become an artwork is a very strong idea for young students,” said Francesca Bacci, associate professor of art and design, who reconnected with Hawkinson after 18 years. One of the first shows she helped curate as a gallery assistant in New York City was Hawkinson’s.

“I met Tim, he installed this huge piece and with that show we won a Best New York City Gallery Award that year,” Bacci said. “He was young also — straight out of graduate school. We sent a piece to the Venice Biennale, which is a huge deal.”

She said the concept of his work stayed with her all those years.

“When he measures himself, at one inch intervals with belts, you get it. You understand. He gave himself a method, he gave himself a question — like what’s my volume in space — and then he gave himself a way of looking at it as a self-portrait,” Bacci said. “People get it because you have a level of shared common ground with him, so that stuck with me.”

Hawkinson said the best mentors listen to their students and try not to get in the way of where the student wants to take a piece, an attribute many of his teachers had with him.

“I don’t know if I have that gift,” Hawkinson said. “I think I would be a lousy mentor, because I’m too egocentric, and I just see how I would do things.”

Guarneri disagreed.

“Absolutely not,” Guarneri said. “He’s an amazing mentor.”

“We’ve only just met,” Hawkinson countered.

“I know. But you’re leading us down the right path, and I do appreciate that,” said Guarneri, of Long Island, NY. “This is an exploration for me, and I’m having a lot of fun.”

Hawkinson has participated in numerous exhibitions in the United States and abroad, including such important surveys as the Venice Biennale (1999), the Whitney Biennial (2002) and the Corcoran Biennial in Washington, D.C. (2003).

The gallery is located on campus at the R.K. Bailey Art Studios at 310 N. Blvd. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. There is no charge for admission.


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