Juarez Hawkins Profile Picture

Juarez Hawkins

Back to list Added Oct 16, 2006

A Little History

When I finished Northwestern, I looked for ways to support myself as an artist. While holding down a data processing job, I started a small business out of my home to launch a line of holiday cards I’d designed. Warm Brown Greetings was a modest success; I sold the cards in stores and through a network of sellers. I started taking art and graphic design courses part-time, initially with an eye toward creating a better greeting card. I disbanded my little company three years later, but continued my classes and illustration work. Publications that feature my work include Mother Tongues, The Bull-Jean Stories, Tales of a Woojiehead, The Literary Xpress, and the WGCI Calendars of African American Art.

Over the next three summers, I began participating in local art fairs, primarily as a sketch artist. I enjoyed working live in public, but disliked being subject to the caprices of nature. My first gallery show in 1990 got me out of the elements. It also gave me a chance to flex some digital muscle. I created an animation my work, which I installed on a kiosk amidst the paintings on display. A number of my subsequent exhibitions have had a performance and/or digital component.

In 1991, I left data processing to work as a freelance graphic artist. I also continued to exhibit regularly, averaging several group shows a year. Affiliations with Woman Made Gallery and the Sapphire and Crystals collective helped advance my career. These groups exposed me to a wide array of creative women, resources and ideas, while helping me grow as an exhibiting artist.

By 1998, I’d tired of life in front of a computer. I’d been teaching between freelance gigs (City Colleges, Gallery 37, Little Black Pearl Workshop), and looked to expand my credentials. I enrolled in Columbia College’s Interdisciplinary Arts Graduate Program. My thesis work was a performance piece that combined original music (mine) and sculptural “garments” that addressed the nature of adornment.

After graduation, I taught art at the elementary and secondary levels, establishing residencies in various schools around the city. Working with Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, I specialized in arts integration, using art to enhance and reinforce academic lesson plans. I was awarded two Oppenheimer Teacher Incentive Grant Awards for my integrated curricula. Meanwhile, I developed performance work for Columbia’s Glass Layers Festival and performed around the city as a singer with the Drum Divas, a local drum ensemble.

I currently teach at Chicago State University, where my course offerings include drawing, ceramics, art appreciation, and African-American Art.


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