Artist John Hitchcock was given the opportunity to talk about his work in a presentation and then some of his work is on display for guests to see at the Komechak Art Gallery on campus earlier this week. The gallery hosted Hitchcock on Sunday, March 4 and Teresa Parker, the gallery’s curator, was very excited to have Hitchcock come show his work. It was the perfect timing with Benedictine’s Teach-In to be able to display Hitchcock’s activist prints.
Embracing his heritage, Hitchcock focuses on where he came from as the subject of his piece. Hitchcock grew up on an Indian reservation in Oklahoma, he draws inspiration from that culture. The artwork on display in the gallery are all framed pieces where he used the color and shapes of his culture, then used animals from the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, which was right next to his reservation.
Hitchcock described his life growing up in an interview as having had Fort Sill, a large military base, right next to his reservation, where the sound of machine gun fire was just a part of the landscape. The trio made up of the reservation, the military base, and the wildlife refuge right next to them, play a role in Hitchcock’s art.
“Color references the beauty of life,” said Hitchcock.
He shared that the different colors have different symbolic meanings in his culture, such as blues representing the night. Then the machinery of the military not only reflects his own family, his father having worked on the base, but the history of the Natives living on the reservation.
He is able to create an awareness about the plight of his people and their assimilation through his work and the relationships between the subjects of his pieces. Most of his politically driven pieces are installations on display in various museums, but it is hard to ignore the implications that can be made with his frameworks.
Hitchcock’s art is still on display in the Komechak Art Gallery on the fifth floor of Kindlon Hall. His cultural background and political angles of his work tell stories of social injustice of the indigenous peoples of America.