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The ole adage “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” is easily applied to local artist Ben Hawkins. He collects the tossed away and discarded, and transforms them into sculptures. Taking objects of the everyday and arranging them in whimsical forms, Hawkins’ assemblage sculptures are banal on the surface, but rare and unique at the core.
Infusing playfulness into the seemingly mundane, Hawkins’ process begins with the act of acquiring stuff. Hawkins is indiscriminate in his collecting. He’s not looking for the perfect objects, but rather looking to arrange the objects in the perfect way. The top of a Weber grill and a traffic cone become the face of a bird. A plastic ice cube tray, placed at just the right angle, makes a great set of teeth. The artist keeps the shape, and in most cases the color, of the objects intact. He repurposes the materials while maintaining their integrity. An object’s history and character and the role it played during its intended-functional-days are upheld.
Hawkins journey to collecting junk is rather serendipitous. After moving into his current residence, he discovered a large cabinet full of items left in the basement. For most, the response would be to discard the cabinet and its contents, but Hawkins took the opposite approach. He began experimenting with the items in ways for which they were never intended by placing them in formations to make faces. These faces are what drew Hawkins in.
The Maker movement – a movement that celebrates grass roots experimentation with everything from crafts to science and technology – is exemplified in Hawkins work and practice. He belongs to a tradition of art making that combines unorthodox materials with an iconoclast. Hawkins uses rubbish to create characters with expressions as subtle and as surprising as we may see in our daily lives.
For more information on Ben Hawkins, visit his Facebook page, “Whimsical Rubbish.”