+ Celeste Fichter
Stuart Hawkins, Room Top Garden, 2010, C-print, edition 3 of 5, 44 x 55 in. Courtesy of Zach Feuer Gallery.
Celeste Fichter, Winning Cap, 2011, colored pencil, 9 x 6 in. Courtesy of the artist.
Q+A: Stuart Hawkins
How has the artist you chose influenced or inspired you?
And in turn how have you influenced those around you?
How has the audience, if at all, been influential?
My mentors never knew they were mentoring me—nor did I really know I was being mentored. We were all best friends from different countries. They made their work in an urgent fashion without any concern for recognition or reward and survived inhospitable conditions. They were constrained in numerous ways that enabled them to abandon a certain
self-consciousness that hinders many artists. Whenever I hit a difficult impasse, I shudder to think how frivolous my worries are. Their fearlessness was culturally unprecedented. My concerns often feel small when I recount what they had to contend with in their lives. I picked Celeste Fichter to represent these mentors for me in "The Influentials." She best embodies their unrelenting spirit. She is also one of my favorite artists. Celeste's art helps me to see what I want to make. It is bittersweet, smart and funny. She makes human folly loveable.
I have no idea how I have influenced my viewing audience. But in the making of my work, I have had the pleasure of getting to know many of the people who have happened upon one of my shoots, stepped outside of the gathering audience, and joined in to participate. Over the years, the conversation about many of these shoots has continued and I have found this to be more meaningful than the final piece of art itself. That people still want to talk about the particularities of a shoot and the message that was being communicated on that day (I hope) means that my creative process is mutually influential.
What does feminism mean to you? Does it influence your practice or the way you position your work? Some public figures have said we live in a post-gender condition, would you agree?
Feminism has represented varying ideas to me at different stages in my life, especially having lived in Nepal for 15 years. Regardless of age and place though, I always trusted that a decent version of feminism would become a reality in my lifetime. But now, writing these words in 2011, I am sad to say that I think feminism needs as much attention and work as it ever has. Women are led to believe that we are "equal" yet one would be hard pressed to find a woman who feels this to be true. The statistics don't read so well either. How can it be that American women represent two thirds of all poor adults? My work is largely collaborative. I would say all of my subjects have brought aspects of feminism to the fore—it is everyone's problem.