Pat Hickman Keynote Address
June 10, 2011
Pat Hickman creates work that is highly personal and labor intensive. Her recent exhibit River That Runs Both Ways (with Joan Harmon) was displayed at the Phoenix Gallery of New York City. For the new exhibit she used “river teeth”, which are formed from the trunks of trees that have entirely or partially died and fallen into the river. Hickman also uses gut, or animal intestinal membrane, as an art medium. She came to Confluence from her home in Haverstraw, New York, after spending 16 years as the Professor and Head of the Fiber Art Program at the University of Hawaii Art Department.
As the Keynote Speaker for #Confluence, Hickman presented a lecture titled “Confluence: Beyond Surface“. I was impressed by Hickman’s clarity and artistic vision. She is concise and confident in her work and its motives. Often I find myself going off on tangents, or stumbling through details on the way to my point. I can only hope as I grow artistically – and personally – I will develop the clarity of vision and drive that Hickman exhibits.
During the address Hickman shared with members the process and emotion that led her to finished work. I was thankful Hickman’s speech included not only information about her own work and history, but the work of others who have inspired and challenged her.
I took away from the Keynote address a sense of purpose and the desire to define my own artistic drive. Hickman influenced me to believe that there is no reason to over-complicate our motives or our lives. Simply, as artists we take strength from our daily lives and common experiences. We feel a feeling, and allow ourselves to embrace it fully; own it and bring life to it. With patience and a dedication to the labor, we build the feeling into physical form. Finally, as we let the feeling go we put the artistic manifestation of that feeling out into the world for others to see it. If a viewer gets it they will feel the expression of that initial feeling. And if not? Then too bad for them. Often that was never the point.