In the universe of contemporary art, Pat Hickman holds an unusual spot. She’s prominent in her field, works with unusual media, creates exquisite objects and believes titles matter.
Known in the conceptual art universe as a pioneer with considerable longevity, Hickman, 76, is in town this week and next for a workshop and two exhibits. Both open this evening. You can see “Here, Still” on Sept. 15, as part of Gallery Walk. It’s upstairs in the library at the Durango Arts Center. Hickman’s companion exhibit, “Still Here,” will be at Fort Lewis College’s Art Gallery with an informal opening tonight, then for three weeks until Oct. 6 in the Art Building. As of this writing, Hickman’s weekend workshop, “Openings: Netting and Looping,” Sept. 9-10, at DAC is almost sold out.
Born in Fort Morgan in 1941, Hickman came to use animal gut and hog casings naturally. Her father cut meat in a grocery store, and she grew up witnessing the interconnections between animal and human life. Of the many articles written about her, a seminal experience is often repeated: her encounter with artifacts made of animal skins by native peoples in Alaska. In particular, a gut parka, apparently, stopped her cold – seeing an animal membrane used as an outer cloak, or skin, for a human being.
Hickman is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder with a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. After a three-decade career teaching textile and fiber programs, Hickman became head of department at the University of Hawaii and is now professor emerita. Honors, grants, fellowships, exhibitions and inclusion in numerous permanent collections abound. Her website, www.pathickman.com, gives a fuller picture.
So, it’s a coup to have even one Hickman exhibit, let alone two, in Durango.
More than a year ago, a network of local people began planning to get Hickman and her artwork here. Friends of the Art Library found a co-sponsor in New Face Productions. Another sponsor, Sunnyside Meats, will provide materials for Hickman’s workshop. FOAL curates six shows a year and chooses artists whose work is rarely seen in typical local galleries. In turn, FOAL members reached out to Andrea Martens, director of the FLC gallery, and a two-part exhibit opens both galleries this season.
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theater Critics Association.