By Jennifer Sadler and Kelsey Thaxton
As the most comprehensive online events guide and resource for arts and culture in central Ohio, ColumbusArts.com offers a virtual guide through the Columbus art world with a searchable database of events, concerts, performances and more. ColumbusArts.com is an engaging place for artists and arts organizations to share what they do, with an average of 30,000 users per month. The ColumbusArts.com Artist Directory allows visual, performing and literary artists to create a profile and portfolio to showcase their work—for free—and enables art enthusiasts to easily search for and connect with them. Our monthly ColumbusArts.com artist profile series features interviews with a few of the many talented individuals who make up central Ohio’s thriving creative community. Local artist, Derrick Hickman, has been selected to present his paintings in the Emerging Artist program at this year's Columbus Arts Festival. We recently spoke with Hickman to learn more about his work and showing his work for the first time at a large outdoor festival.
GCAC: Where are you from?
DH: I’m from Grove City, just south of Columbus and have I’ve lived in Lebanon, Ohio for several years now.
GCAC: Tell us a bit about your work; what inspires you and what kind of materials and techniques do you like working with?
DH: For the past 10 years my work has revolved around the ideas of memory--particularly that of childhood memory. My first series of paintings were large (9'x9' to 4'x4') text abstractions that acted as enlarged diary snippets that were both extremely public and hidden at the same time. This series has evolved in to a commissioned series called the word portrait project. Continuing the theme of giving up control of our narratives once they have been made public, I've turned the table and now viewers can commission word portraits through my site www.wordportraitproject.com.
My second series is Childhood, as it was explained to me. In these mixed media paintings, vintage childhood toys and advertising images are juxtaposed next to ad speak and partial snippets of personal narrative. It was meant to address our initiation as children into the world of false promises and romanticize happiness. It still amazes me that when viewers see the pieces, their nostalgia is still cued despite what a let-down we often experience.
I've also been experimenting with found object small sculptures. Collected pieces of wood, metal and other scrapes are combined with sculpted arms and legs and crudely turned in to dolls. Headless dolls actually. The impetus came from watching a small child playing with a tattered doll sans head and it made me reflect back to when we were open to what was lovable and embraceable, before all the other stuff got in the way.
GCAC: Did you study art or are you self-taught?
GCAC: When did you realize that creating art is something you wanted to pursue professionally? Do you show your work in local galleries?
DH: I knew I wanted to be an artist at around age 5. It has always been a part of my self awareness. I show through the Hayley Gallery in New Albany and try to participate in group shows as often as I can.
GCAC: Are there any particular people in your life who encouraged you to become an artist or were a great inspiration for you?
DH: My mother and siblings were constant supporters when I was growing up and in college, both emotionally and financially. Later in Life my wife Kathy and my daughters took on these roles. A lot of time and energy gets sacrificed to studio time. And despite this, they are always so supportive and positive. Much more than I deserve.
GCAC: Are you excited about doing such a huge outdoor show? Has the Emerging Artist program given you a sense of what to expect?
DH: Yes. I am a newbie to this type of thing and excited to see how it goes. I am just hoping that I find an audience that my work resonates with and with a crowd as large as this, there should be a couple, right?
GCAC: Any other events coming up this summer/fall you want to mention or where folks can find your work?
DH: I am deeply behind in preparing for a solo show for August in Portland Oregon (pressure's good, right?) called Where did all the Freaks go? It's a series of large canvas tarps that mimic the style and template of old carnival art. The themes of the show are society and its embrace of once taboo behaviors--both for the good and the bad.
Images: Courtesy of Derrick Hickman. Second image is titled Dresses and is part of the word portrait project series.
To learn more about his work, check out Derrick Hickman's ColumbusArts.com profile and his website at www.canvasmuralstudio.com. Be sure to stopy by Hickman's booth (C77) at the Columbus Arts Festival, located on Civic Center Drive. Click here to view a Festival map. Festival hours are Friday and Saturday, June 1 & 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, June 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. See you at the Riverfront!