MA Susan Crawley curates exhibition at Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio

Alumna Susan Crawley, recently curated an exhibition – William L. Hawkins: An Imaginative Geography – that opened at the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio. Crawley received a masters in Art History from the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design at Georgia State in 2004. Immediately after her graduation, she served as associate curator and then later curator of folk art at the High Museum of Art from 2004 to 2013.

From the exhibition press release:

“In conjunction with the Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa, CMA presents William L. Hawkins: An Imaginative Geography, the first major exhibition in more than a decade featuring the Columbus artist. From his exotic wild animals to dramatic depictions of Columbus landmarks, William Hawkins created works that are intense, playful, wondrous, quirky, and flamboyant. Organized by the Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa, An Imaginative Geographyexplores this fascinating, self-taught genius with more than 60 important works.

The exhibition was curated by Susan M. Crawley, scholar and independent curator, formerly the curator of folk art at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. Drawn from important public and private collections from across the United States and Europe, the exhibition includes CMA’s newly acquired Ohio Stadium painting and both well-known and rarely seen works.”

From the organizing institution, the Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa:

“Although he has long held a place in the forefront of twentieth-century self-taught artists, the Ohio painter William Lawrence Hawkins has recently received less than his fair share of attention. William L. Hawkins: An Imaginative Geography will introduce Hawkins’s exuberant paintings to a wider audience at a time when more and more general museums are recognizing the powerful appeal of America’s self-taught artists. While focusing on the artist’s most aesthetically successful, confident, and characteristic works, the exhibition will bring special attention to his use of space, his collage practice, and his work in series, of which his nine Last Suppers is perhaps the most extensive example.

Hawkins explored the world through mass media and then represented it to the public with a unique expressive bravado. He appropriated most of his subjects from photographic reproductions he amassed from newspapers, books, calendars, magazines and other popular print media. Simplifying the forms and heightening the colors, he elaborated certain passages with vigorous, swirling brushwork. He also taught himself sophisticated techniques such as scumbling, which he used to great effect. As he became more successful, Hawkins began to collage mass media images and eventually found objects into his paintings, and he developed a technique he called “puffing up” a shape: building it up from the support by mixing cornmeal into the enamel paint.

Drawn from important public and private collections across the United States, William L. Hawkins: An Imaginative Geography will include approximately fifty of Hawkins’s most important paintings, both well-known pieces and others rarely seen. The exhibition will cover all of Hawkins’s favorite subject matter, including cityscapes, landscapes, exotic places, animals, current events, historic scenes, and religious scenes. The exhibition will also include a very rare assembled sculpture in the round. Hawkins also left a large body of drawings. A selection of approximately ten of the best of these, many of which are versions of his favorite themes, can be housed in a small separate gallery if desired.

The spectacular exuberance of Hawkins’s paintings echoes the artist’s own flamboyance. He performed his colorful persona for visitors who filmed him extensively during the 1980s. Some of this video and film footage, which will available for use during the exhibition, will bring the performative/performance aspect of his life into the exhibition of his art. ”

The exhibition is on view through May 20, 2018.