Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ghosts of Brutality

On February 11th, artist John Hitchcock gave a talk about his artistic process at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum (1000 Holt Avenue, Winter Park, Fl). A whole room in the Cornell is filled with an installation he did called "Ghosts of Brutality". Cut out screen prints on paper and felt created a complex mosaic on the walls and floor. Military helicopters dropped bombs while tanks roamed the base boards. Severed heads of bison, deer and donkeys floated in space among the bombs. John isn't strict about the placement of each print in the installation. Students and staff helped with the installation so they were very much a part of the artistic process.

Before John's talk, a movie clip played of Indians dancing in their full regalia.  John grew up in Western Oklahoma in a Comanche reservation across from a US Military base. As a child he grew up with artillery training always in the background. His first drawings were to help his grandmother prepare intricate bead work. He did a series of circular prints that showed bison with a target symbol. He was very proud that one of these later sported a bullet hole.

John prints a massive amount of work for his installations, often recruiting students to help in the process. On a trip to Venice, he left a print at every historic place he went. The prints left behind were like bread crumbs of his travels. John's work addresses war, assimilation and imperialism.

A doctor found a large malignant growth that threatened John's life. At this time, when faced with death, John began to sketch obsessively every day. He would post each days sketch on his Facebook page. I wholeheartedly identify with his obsession. He also began to incorporate more color in his work.  The threat of death caused him to bloom.

Mark your calendar! Ghosts of Brutality is up through April 13th. Admission to the museum is now free, thanks to the Bressemer trust, so you have no excuse not to go.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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