Graduate Spotlight: Craig Hawkins
Expected Graduation: Spring 2011
Degree Objective: MFA in Fine Arts
Other Degrees: BFA in Fine Arts
Craig Hawkins’ studio is a hodgepodge of daily sketches, charcoal pieces, pastels, and racks of artwork. Still in an infancy stage, his current project covers one wall of the studio. The unfinished piece is taking shape as a boy being lifted into the air with balloons tied to his arms.
Hawkins, a master’s student in fine arts, has spent the last year and a half creating artwork and teaching classes at UGA. His intricate artwork has been fine-tuned his entire life, drawing since the age of two and working in fine arts for more than a decade.
Over the course of his studies here, Hawkins has learned to stick by one maxim: show, don’t tell.
“I want my work to show more than tell,” said Hawkins. “If a work is telling the viewer what to see, it’s not as applicable and universal to each individual viewer.”
He strives to give everyone their own personal take on his work, abstaining from any overt sentiments.
“Sometimes my past work has made more statements, or stated things more than asked questions,” he said. “There weren’t enough questions available for the viewers to stand there, take it all in, and arrive at those questions and see how they answer them for themselves.”
This notion is exemplified in his art series Notice. Created last spring, Notice is composed of 16 non-traditional portraits; each life-size drawing is of a person’s back and shoulders. The charcoal drawings are mounted on canvas that protrudes from the wall, unsheltered by glass.
The Notice series began when Hawkins asked himself a simple question: “If I walked into a room filled with these portraits, would I feel ignored?”
After finishing four portraits, Hawkins held an art critique. Instead of being ignored, people felt they were looking at something, as part of a group.
“It has a uniting effect of viewer participation,” said Hawkins. “The response was the opposite of what I was expecting. … Every viewer can take away their own personal meaning from it.”
“The white space can be read as this glorious something in the spiritual realm or it can be a white nothingness or it can be a bunch of people waiting for the bus.”
During his study at UGA, Hawkins’ style has changed to incorporate more elaborate, life-sized material. In addition to the Notice series, Hawkins’ larger works include a cow and flocks of birds.
Hawkins said that most of his inspiration originates from scripture readings. His creative process usually begins with some sort of vision that changes and grows as he fleshes it out.
“A lot of my artwork is based off my own faith,” he said. “From that world view, things come together for me.”
His life-size work maintains a close balance between reality and abstraction. The primary subjects in his images are detailed depictions of reality, but the subjects’ borders are often messy and free-flowing. In his most vivid artwork, fluttering strokes remind the viewer of the art’s true nature.
“You have to tell the truth with drawing,” he said. “Every mark has a history to it.”
The inherent authenticity and truthfulness of drawing has always drawn Craig to this medium, although he also is looking for unique ways to broaden his painting skills.
“I want to find a way to enjoy painting as much as I do drawing,” he said. “I’m thinking about modifying a yoga block to hand size, then using it to push around paint like I do charcoal.”
In addition to branching out on his own as an artist, Hawkins ultimately wants to find a university position as an art professor. After receiving his bachelor’s in fine arts from Valdosta State University eight years ago, he decided to continue his education at UGA with teaching as the end goal.
However, Hawkins has other ideas in mind as well.
“I’d like to run off on a rabbit trail and do an internship at Pixar, if I can get in,” he said.
Although Pixar is located in California and draws much of its talent from the surrounding regions, he is banking on his skills to land him a possible job.
“I have some friends there in the industry, and I’ve heard that primarily they want raw talent,” he said. “They don’t care if you can animate, they can teach that, but if you’ve got the raw talent, that’s what they’re after.”
Hawkins next art showing is Oct. 29 to Dec. 1 in the Bob Owens Art Gallery at North Georgia College & State University.