Alan Emerson HicksMarch 15th, 2011
This article is part of Chicago Art Magazine’s “40 over 40″ series.
In this day and age, we are looking at an environment that is undergoing massive man-made and natural changes. Climate shifts, mass extinctions, clean water shortages, peak oil, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, these are all issues common to everyday knowledge. As they have done many times in the past, artists have taken up the helm of political activism, focusing the viewers’ attention on such salient issues via the visual hook of artwork. From Duchamp’s ready-mades up through the SMART Art Competition, artists have used cast-off detritus as a medium to jab at the status quo. Not all artists who use trash use it exclusively; it is simply one in a panoply of possible materials that artists employ in their individual practices. And so it is with the artists featured here. Each artist has repurposed cast-off goods, creating, through the transformative process of the artistic act, works which transcend their homely source and speak to the wider concerns of waste, ecology, and our place on planet earth.
Alan Emerson Hicks:
Alan Emerson Hicks (b. 1964) firmly positions himself within the cannon of social commentary about and through our disposal of trash. “My artwork is about transformation. I collect plastic commonplace objects and societal detritus, bottles, grocery bags, caps, hangers, video tape and use them to make sculpture. I want the viewer to see the objects of their everyday lives anew, hopefully changing the way they dispose of these items…My work is a commentary on what our society views as important and unimportant,” says Hicks. Hicks is a lifetime Chicagoan, born and raised, and shows at many Chicago venues including Murphy Hill Gallery, Crazy 8 Gallery, and Mars Gallery.