Tim Hawkinson is a master at conjuring both organic and inorganic materials into extraordinary objects that uncannily mimic something entirely different. Kitchen scraps, wizened Christmas trees, detritus blown by storms into his backyard and his own hair are just some of the materials he transforms into intelligent and amusing sculptures and photo-works.
Importantly, many of Hawkinson's objects use his own body as source material. Thumbsucker (2015), for example, is a two-part hanging sculpture of a moon and astronaut entirely made of casts of the artist’s lips and fingers. Another work looks like a microscope, but the “lenses” were created by casting imprints of his skull or butt cheeks in resin.
Though Hawkinson’s work is playful and often humorous, he addresses some of the most serious issues of our time. A number of works refer to current threats to our environment: rising temperatures and sea levels, drought, and the carbon footprint of our most beloved consumer products. Hawkinson is a visionary, a modern-day alchemist and provocateur, who sees the role of the artist in society as the person who asks the questions without answers.
Tim Hawkinson was born in San Francisco in 1960 and received his BFA from San Jose State University before moving to the Los Angeles area (MFA 1989, University of California, Los Angeles), where he is currently based. Solo museum exhibitions include the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams; and an exhibition organized by the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati which traveled to five venues including the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. He was a featured artist in the PBS Art21 series in 2003, and was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 2015. Hawkinson's tidal-dependent kinetic sound piece, "Bosun's Bass," was commissioned by the Exploratorium in San Francisco last year. His monumental sculpture, constructed from the demolished remains of the original downtown transit terminal, will be installed at the main entrance of the new Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco when it opens in 2017.