It was there all along

Frank Hamrick

July 1st – August 1st, 2020
Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF)
Watkinsville, GA

It was there all along – Statement

Water is universal, connecting people to one another and to nature.

John Steinbeck’s To A God Unknown describes the cycle of rain in California declaring ten years of average rain, ten years of plentiful rain and ten years of drought. In the bad years, no one remembers the good years, and in the good years, no one remembers the bad years.

On a hill in Tennessee, water pours from a cave after a storm, and through a system of creeks and rivers, finds its way to the Gulf of Mexico.

A mural in Louisiana states, “In a flood every raindrop feels responsible.”

As the grandson of a well driller, I learned early in life water does not originate from a faucet, nor simply disappear after going down the drain.

It was there all along is a limited edition artist’s book addressing water related issues, such as recreation, farming, transportation, drought, flooding, and coastal erosion. The hand carved cover art was relief printed on cotton rag paper made by hand during a 2018 visiting artist residency at Texas Woman’s University. These wet plate collodion tintypes were created throughout Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Texas and Tennessee near the Cumberland, Ouachita, North Toe, and Mississippi Rivers, as well as the Little Choudrant, McNutt, Sand and Whites Creeks, and the Gulf of Mexico.

If a photograph is considered in the same manner as a single song, then an artist’s book is similar to an entire album of music complete with cover art and liner notes. Artist’s books allow for the combination of images with text and the incorporation of materials, like handmade paper, and processes, such as letterpress relief printing, paper staining, and layering various colors of pulp to create limited edition works of art that can convey a more complete, realized idea than a single image is capable of doing. To further this idea, exhibiting a body of work is analogous to a concert.

The pieces I make have particular meaning to me, but I realize others will see them in their own way. My artwork is not necessarily created to illustrate or provide answers. If anything, I would like for my art to generate more questions. I do not see them as endpoints, but rather starting places where I give the viewer ideas to ponder and leave room for their imagination to create the rest of the story.

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Frank Hamrick Bio

Oxford American Magazine and NPR have written about Frank Hamrick’s art. His work is collected by the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago and The Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Frank is the MFA Graduate Program Coordinator and Professor at Louisiana Tech University’s School of Design in Ruston.

Born in Georgia, Frank grew up surrounded by the writing of Flannery O’Conner and Alice Walker, as well as the music of Little Richard, Otis Redding and The Allman Brothers Band. Frank’s handmade books combine photography and storytelling with papermaking and letterpress printing to address time, relationships and home. Frank’s limited edition artist’s book of tintype images Harder than writing a good haiku earned the 2017 Houston Center for Photography Fellowship and was awarded first place in the 2017 The Los Angeles Festival of Photography’s Photobook Competition. His most recent book is It was there all along.

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