Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Artist Profiles: Ryan Hawk

I met Ryan Hawk a little over a year ago when he performed at DEATHSEX and then he moved away. :( He is one of the most enthusiastic and brave performance artists that I have worked with so far! Now he is off getting an education that i am totally jelzz of. I am constantly amazed at the new work he shares, and I am proud to share this interview with you.

So you are originally from Houston, right? Tell us about where you have ended up!

-Yes, I was born in Pasadena and I moved all around the Houston burbs growing up. I started taking classes at Glassell full time when I turned 17 and lived in the Warehouse District and Montrose for a while. I then transferred to The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (SMFA or just the Museum School) and I’ll plan on being here until I finish my BFA. I’m living in a town called Jamaica Plain, its pretty awesome; it doesn’t even feel like I’m in a city!

How have your Houston roots contributed to the things you are currently exploring in your work?

-Well, Houston is my home, the place I grew up ya know… So I feel there is definitely a little appropriation there. A lot of my current work is dipping into memories and previous life experiences, which would be entirely different depending on the city I grew up in. There’s also a lot of great, inspiring art folks in Houston, like yourself, that have played a huge role in my aspirations.

Tell us about some of the performance art lessons/workshops you have experienced at your new school.

-My school is one of the few art universities that actually teach performance and the discourse surrounding it… You have to start with a beginning workshop, which covers the scope of the medium and its history, and then you can move into the intermediate courses which change every semester, exploring themes like: Ritual, Activism, Duration, Site-specific (and several more). There’s also an open studios class for self-directed work that I’ll be engaging in this upcoming fall semester.

One of the best experiences I’ve had so far is a class I took called “Visiting Performance Workshop”. The school invited three professional Performance Artist over a semester’s time to come do week long workshops. The exercises varied in genre and were really damn intensive. The artist I worked with included: Guy Benfield (Australian), Wathiq Gzar Al-Ameri and Ali Al-Fatlawi (Afghanistan), and Amanda Coogan (Ireland).

I heard you are currently working in a performance collective, fill us in on all the detailz!!

-I started a student run performance group at SMFA in which we meet every Friday and critique each other’s work, engage in dialogue, and actually do Improvisational/Durational performances. Were slowly forming into a collective and actually had our first gig located inside an art venue May 1st. We limited ourselves to exploring various colors/types of string in a framed space in relation to our bodily identities. It was successful in our eyes. It’s pretty fucking exciting when you start working collaboratively in performance because you start to realize more about yourself individually as an artist. It’s also nice to have a group of artist engaged in such a medium as performance constantly assessable because crits are always needed!

What kind of solo performance art are you currently/recently working on? Where can we see your work in Houston??

My previous work(s) would be viewed as politically challenging or charged, but recently I’ve been moving away from that work and more into a study of the moral body and examinations of the self, although it seems I’ll always be interested in some study of ethics! I recently constructed a large plaster head-like-thing that’s pretty damn heavy and I’ve been wearing it all kinds of places, investigating my body with the head in the different spaces/frames including random streets and the MFA, Boston. It’s been very physiologically charged, masking my identity to investigate an internal construction of the self… I feel it’s headed somewhere cool, but I’m not sure where yet.

Here is a still from Ryan's piece currently showing at Box 13. Click here to visit Emily Sloan's blog for more info about the show!

I have a video piece in Emily Sloan's space located inside Box 13 in Houston. It’s a show celebrating Texas based Bi-sexual artists, I haven’t been in town to check it out yet, but I hear it is wild. You can also check my website, although its terribly outdated, I hope to have it updated by the start of June 2011.


I come in town often, like a typical college student, to visit fam/friends and what not. I have two more years left of my BFA and I’m not so sure about grad school yet. I DO, however have my eyes on Glassell’s Core Program located in Houston; hopefully I can sink into that in the future!

Thank you, Ryan! Can't wait for you to bring back some of the awesome performance art power you are gathering up there. So proud you're out there representing H-town!

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