is a recent graduate of Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts and is currently at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In addition to attending schools with really long names, he's a collage artist who sat down for some hard-hitting questions from WeShotJr for this week's edition of Greatness
Red Sox or Rangers?Alex Hamrick:
Baseball's never really been my sport, but I do have a small bit of sway on the matter. I generally have at least one of my windows up when I'm at home, and my room faces an inner "courtyard" (for lack of a better word) that is exceedingly good at amplifying noise. I live two or three blocks from Fenway Park, and when there's a game on there are generally helicopters flying about, probably getting aerial shots or something. I don't know really why they fly around, but they do, and the courtyard outside my window amplifies that awful noise that helicopters apparently make, and it drives me up the wall. So I'd have to say Rangers, if only for that slight detail. Which isn't so slight. It's incredibly aggravating.RH:
Kurt Schwitters or Raoul Hausmann?AH:
I've been told by more teachers than I can remember to look up Kurt Schwitters in relationship to my collage work. Until a few minutes ago when I googled him, I'd never really seen much of him. I'd never even heard of Hausmann. After a quick breeze through a few pages of image search results, I have to say that Schwitters knocks the hell out of Hausmann, who had maybe one piece that I liked. On a somewhat related note, when it comes to knowing about art history and artists, it isn't too hard to make me look like a fool. This is my sixth year in art school and anyone that's taken a single art history course and paid attention knows more than me about what's happened and is happening now.RH:
Would you kindly describe the three most significant events in your life in the last 24 hours?AH:
- Finishing drawings to photograph for the public relations department at school. We have a sale every year to raise funds for scholarships, and I was contacted about my work possibly being used for publications and advertising for the sale. Problem was, I didn't really have much new work to submit. I was told that it would be fine if the images I submitted were not images that would be in the sale, but that didn't seem right to me. Why would I want old work published if it wasn't going to be in the sale? If someone saw an image of mine and thought "hey, yeah, that's pretty nice, I'd like to buy that", they wouldn't be able to. Because it wouldn't be there. That's just silly. That being said, I had to produce some new work in about a two week time span. Normally that wouldn't be a problem, but I had a mini meltdown and became frustrated, bored and generally uninterested in pretty much every way I could think of pertaining to drawing. This caused some problems, but I managed to dig into something new this past week and pump a few things out just in time to meet the deadline. I didn't get very good photographs of the drawings though, so they probably won't even use them. Oh well.
- Two of my friends called me up Thursdsay and asked if I wanted to play drums with them in a band the following day (yesterday). I've been playing drums for about five years now, but don't have the luxury of having a kit in Boston. Adapting has not been easy. When at home in Dallas, I play my drums every day, and I mean every day. Letting go of that was really hard for me to do, and it frustrates me daily (I've taken to tapping relentlessly and beatboxing). Going over to Scott's and beating the crap out of his kind neighbors set was absolutely amazing, and the whole band aspect was really positive too. Droning, spazzed out distorted loops, guitars, vocals and drums. Yes and yes.
- Making sure I called one of my best friends on her birthday. Missing a birthday is a pretty horrible feeling, especially when it's a close friend. I have an awful memory for birthdays so that was an accomplishment for me.
You have won an all-expenses-paid 5-day trip to fabulous Aruba! You must select an artist, a writer, and a musician from anywhere in history to go with you. Who would you choose?AH:
Well, shit! That sounds nice. Where is Aruba anyways? I have this thing where I feel that meeting well known people in the creative spotlight would be really terrifying and uncomfortable. I'm not sure I'd want to spend 5 days in Aruba with some total stranger (much less three!) that intimidates the hell out of me. Besides, if they're already well known, they could probably pay for their own damn trip to Aruba. With that I'll present two scenarios, one where I take three well known people that would make me horribly uncomfortable, and one where I take three people that still qualify in those categories that I already know and respect.
Artist: Nina Katchadourian
Writer: E.E. Cummings or Ayn Rand, but probably Cummings
Musician: Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo
Artist: Will Schneider-White or Mike Lay
Writer: Blair Patterson
Musician: Adrian HaynesRH: Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts
is arguably one of DISD's finest assets. You are a recent graduate. What was your experience like there?AH:
My experience at Booker T. was about as brilliant as I believe a high school experience can be. The entire student body is full of creative people, with smaller concentrations of really dedicated talents that actually decide to go on to school for the arts. Being around those kids was absolutely the best part of the whole deal, because they were a constant motivator (whether by positive or negative example) to push myself further and explore different ways to produce work. Not being in dance, music or theater, I can't really say anything about the people who taught in those departments, but the staff of the Visual Arts department were all good for me in their own way as well, especially the first two or three years. They really kicked my ass and squeezed all the work out of me that they could. I think going to Booker T. made it a lot easier to adapt to college, both in the nature of the curriculum and also the openness of the staff. We had a really strong academic department, too. There were/are some great teachers at that school, and they all helped give me the confidence I needed to believe in myself and my own practices.RH:
Can you describe your art studio environment? During what time of year do you work best?AH: My school
is very small. The amount of undergraduate students is about the same as the total number of students at B.T.W. Having such a small school is great because it creates a close-knit community that is very comfortable and supportive. It allows you to form tight bonds with students and staff alike. SMFA is a very creative, open environment. We don't have a foundation year and we don't have majors, so you essentially build your own curriculum in the sense that you just take whatever classes interest you. The building is open from six or seven in the morning to midnight every day of the week, and if you want to do an overnight all you need is a signed form from any teacher. Every square inch of the place encourages kids to make things.
I'm not sure what time of year is best for me art wise, but I can say that in the past two years, summer has been the worst time. When I get into a serious art groove, I work and work and work and by the end of the school year I'm totally burned out. It takes me a few months to cool off and reset. On a day to day basis though, night time is definitely where it's at. Last night / this morning I was up until five working on my website.RH:
As an artist, what was the first inspiring event or other influence that made you realize (more or less): "I should try that... I could be an artist."AH:
I never went to public school as a kid. I started off in Montessori school, then went to George Bannerman Dealey, then to K.B. Polk for the TAG program, and then to W.B. Travis, which was a fully formed TAG school (TAG standing for Talented and Gifted, whatever that means). When it came time to figure out where to go to high school, there were a few options for me. One option was to go to S.E.M., one was to attend the TAG Magnet, one was my local high school Bryan Adams, and the last was Booker T. I thought to myself, "hmm, I've been in heavy academics for four years. That wasn't much fun. Bryan Adams is a horrible horrible place. I like art I guess." My parents enrolled me in a class at Lakewood Arts (which is now Studio Arts) that was created specifically to build a portfolio for application to Booker T., and to generally prepare students for the audition process. Everyone that took the class got in, myself included. Somewhere over the summer after my first year at B.T.W. I realized that I loved whatever the hell it was that I was doing, and that was kind of it for me. I've been a lost cause ever since. I guess that's not really a specific event so to speak, but I'm not sure there really was one. I think it was just the process of learning something about myself that I didn't know.For some of Mr. Hamrick's work, check out his stuff at Deviant Art and at his web site (a work in progress). He's also working on some artwork for a future Tame... Tame and Quiet album (see the cover here). Image courtesy of Alex Hamrick.