Featured Artist: David Hooker

'Corpus'. 2013.
'Corpus'. 2013.

‘Corpus’. 2013.

David Hooker is a ceramicist and sculptor living in the Chicago area where he is associate professor of art at Wheaton College.  He grew up on South Carolina, and he received an MFA in Ceramics from Kent State.  He blogs at Hooker’s Ramblings, and you can view much of his work at his website.

Hooker writes:

My artistic practice explores my fascination with objects, places, history and memory through ritual actions, looking for ways in which ritual can have a positive influence in our understanding of our environments and ourselves.

This description is particularly appropriate for his recent project Corpus (see above).  Currently on display in the Bible and Theology Department of Wheaton College, Corpus is an antique body of Christ that Hooker found and then covered with dust.  Hooker acquired the dust from the vacuum bags of Wheaton College’s custodial staff.  The work draws our attention to numerous rituals: the regularly cleaning of the college, the rhythmic flux of students that moves dirt and dust into the college, the Eucharist, and Hooker’s own process of layering the dust over Jesus’ body.  By drawing attention to these rituals, Corpus also draws the community together.  As Hooker points out in a Chicago Tribune article, “Literally, this dirt contains skin cells from the community. The idea is that our bodies are now connected to the body of Christ.  At first, some might find it disgusting, or even sacrilegious, but I hope people can get past that and see the meaning behind it.”

Rituals are constructs, ways of ordering and structuring our lives, that shape the way we see and understand the world.  This constructed, and mediated, way of encountering the world is reflected in much of Hooker’s work.  For example, in Pilgrim Construction with Zepplin (see below), objects from the “real” world are lifted out of their normal contexts and placed within a new construction.  Doing so asks us to relate the objects to each other in new ways, and it also questions whether the way we see these objects in “real life” is natural or cultural.

One significant social construct that Hooker’s work explores is race.  His most recent project, The Sweep Project, aims to explore the history and memory of racial tension in Will County, Illinois.  By literally sweeping along known Underground Railroad routes and to known Underground Railroad destinations, Hooker will retrieve and uncover, if only ephemerally, the memory of a courageous and desperate ritual that marks a moment in America’s troubled past of slavery and the struggle for civil rights.  In addition to sweeping many miles himself, Hooker plans to incorporate the help of the wider community by, for example, working with local high school students to build a 1.2 mile trail of sugar cubes from the Lincolnway Central High School to the Old Brick Tavern marker.  If you are interested in learning more about the project and supporting it financially, please look at Hooker’s kickstarter campaign.  For a very small donation, you can receive an original Cyanotype print made from elements found during the project.

For more information about Hooker’s work, pleas visit his website.  I have copied some images of his work below:

'Corpus' (Detail). 2013.

‘Corpus’ (Detail). 2013.

Example of Cyanotype for 'The Sweep Project'.

Example of Cyanotype for ‘The Sweep Project’.

'Sheep and Goats.'

‘Sheep and Goats.’

'Pilgrim Construction with Zepplin'.

‘Pilgrim Construction with Zepplin’.

 

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:

3 Comments

  • Bruce Herman says:

    David Hooker’s work evokes the welcome, humility, and transparency that hopefully helps to dissolve the barrier between the art cogniscenti and the average person. In his series some years ago, as part of “Charis” (the East-West exchange that Joel Carpenter helped generate) he chose to create doormats derived from digital photographs of his own feet stepping into various liminal spaces. (Who would have EVER thought to use a welcome mat as an art medium?) In “Corpus” and “Sweep” he again chooses the lower seat, the place of humble labor (each piece taken from places below our feet–the dust and detritus of a college dorm or, more dramatically, a slave escape route––the slaves themselves having been the sweepers of another, colonial culture).
    I am inspired by this artist’s example, his surprising choice of materials, and his conceptual move to lower the bar in order to raise it higher than most art ambition ever reaches.

    • Bruce Herman says:

      I just realized that David’s woven pieces are prayer rugs, not literal welcome mats…but I think the mixing of these two is even MORE evocative!

  • David Hooker says:

    Thanks to Jim and to Bruce for the kind words. I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to direct a link to the work Bruce is referring to. It’s called Karamat. It can be seen here: http://www.davidjphooker.com/charis.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

1,463,335 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments