Houston-based contemporary artist you should know: Ryan Hawk

The artists in the Gulf Coast continues to inspire with its unique and innovative approaches to materials, colors and today’s controversial issues. This fall, we asked visual artist Ryan Hawk to share five things he loves.

Through sculpture and video, conceptual artist Ryan Hawk investigates how we relate to our bodies. Originally from Houston, Hawk completed his graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin and returned to Houston in 2018 as an artist at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s prestigious Core Residency program.

Hawk uses silicone as their main material and is fascinated by how it is used in all industries, from plastic surgery to petrochemicals and even sex lubricants. Her “flesh objects” critique the complexities of whiteness and patriarchy through her exploration of tattooing and how the practice is embedded in colonial history. As recently featured in the 2021 Texas Biennale, for example, Impossible Erasures of Impossibility draws on American poet Fred Moten’s critique of theorist Frantz Fanon’s reflections on liberal humanism to explore the blackout trend of tattooing and its connection to race.

Five things Ryan Hawk loves

  1. silicone rubber “I’m interested in the inherent corporeality of silicone. It looks and feels like flesh, and it’s used in overlapping economies.
  2. While reading “I am an avid reader, especially of history and theory. I want people to read more.

  3. Frantz Fanon “Fanon’s work teaches us that not only is race a cultural construct, but racism is the fabric of Western aesthetic culture and is embedded in everything. Fanon insists that revolutionary and anti-colonial violence is crucial, and it’s a part of his work that is so undervalued.

  4. Child’s play “The horror genre as a whole is super important to my practice, but the Chucky movies were super formative for me from an early age.”

  5. Surrealist Galleries at the Menil Collection “It’s really special and incredibly diverse. It was also very important for me to discover this collection at such a young age. Ryan Hawk reflects on the importance of the Surrealist galleries in the Menil Collection here.

About Margaret L. Portillo

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