Moving from New York to Texas
Returning from our winter break for the spring semester of 2020, little did I know that it was going to be my last semester of teaching. Things that semester began as usual, starting the term anticipating a great finish to the year. Then, in early March, there were rumors that we may need to close school for a few weeks because of the threat of Covid-19. On March 20th it happened, and the two weeks off turned out to be the remainder of the term. It felt like the time had come for me to consider retirement after 35 years of teaching. The prospect of needing to teach fully online had no appeal to me.
My decision to move to Texas was an obvious choice, as I had already been considering leaving New York for Corpus Christi. The love of my life, Isabel, has been there all her life, and we had been sharing a long distance relationship for years. The move has been a cultural shock to me, leaving the crowded vertical environment for an open flat horizon, sun drenched climate, hot, humid, bright and seemingly nearly always windy. Having grown up in the central valley of California, south Texas has a very familiar feel to me, since I had been exposed to a hot climate as a young man.
My work has profited from the change, and finding an active community of working artists here has reinvigorated my studio practice. The slower pace of life has allowed me time to reflect and reinvestigate earlier concerns with my work. I have been producing small constructed pieces, works that were recently exhibited at K Space Contemporary, Corpus Christi. Small scale works that are direct in approach, using paper mache and modest materials, with cutout wood structures in order to build the elements of the "Relief Paintings," the abstract images represent biomorphic elements of the body, curtain shapes, burnt potatoes, all allowing the works to be read as semi-humorous, not too serious-serious. They are to appear open, friendly and playful, that's my approach to the making, with the hope that's how they will be seen. In terms of how being in Texas may have altered my practice, I would contend that it's too soon to assess the influences that I may have absorbed from the change. What I do realize is that the community of artists has reenergized my attitude towards my work.
People need to realize that in New York, it is very hard to keep in touch with community, it's too vast and spread out. Here at least the community is condensed enough to be able to comprehend and feel a part of it, which has served my artistic practice very well.
Don Hazlitt was born in 1948 in Stockton, California. He received his BA in art in 1971 from Sonoma State University, MA in art in 1973 from California State University, and his MFA in 2007 from Vermont College. He has exhibited nationally and internationally in places such as New York, Illinois, North Carolina, France, England, Switzerland and more. He now resides in Corpus Christi, Texas.