Larry Hopewell



Larry Hopewell lives in Athens, Georgia.

MOCA director Don Archer wrote to the artist before a decision was reached on the Rachel Boxes' acceptability as a MOCA exhibit. This is the substance of their correspondence.

The Rachel Boxes is cryptic and difficult art, in my opinion, and before I make a decision on its merit as a MOCA exhibit I should like to elicit some comment from you on your art and some biographical information on you as an artist.

Why is the art called Rachel Boxes?

Rachel, of course, was the love of my life. After years together, she left me and began a relationship with a good friend of ours. I'm sure you've heard the story before, so I'll spare you the wretched details. At any rate, the boxes are a document of failed dreams, lost love and new beginnings. They were created over a period of four months and played a large part in the healing process... a sort of therapy, if you will. They are a virtual extension of my real boxes which I've been constructing off and on since 1983. I turned to the computer for lack of materials and studio space. My desktop was the only tool available to me at the time. This is my first serious attempt at digital imagery.

Is the art to be understood as a series of boxes, or did you intend each box to stand alone as art?

They are both. A series, yet independent of each other. Much like Rachel and myself.

Could you provide a brief curriculum vitae? This would include your art education and experience, and anything else that you feel might be of interest.

I'll be brief. BFA from the University of Georgia (1983), MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art (1985). Painting, ceramics, photography, printmaking. Exhibited widely from 1986 through 1989, at which time I became frustrated and disillusioned with The Art Scene as a whole. In my opinion, the marketing and profiteering of art has done much to trivialize and demean the quality of the arts in our society. The culture of artist as opportunist and art as commodity is not for me. I felt as if I were caught in a maelstrom of sophistry and bad faith, not to mention, bad taste. Artists were measuring their worth and talent in terms of success. I quit exhibiting, withdrawing inward, and began to question the role of art in society. I began to realize that I made art for reasons other than mere social status or monetary gain. I simply wanted to make art.

I am interested in your philosophy of art. What art and artists do you look on as an inspiration to you? "Art should not mean but be," the poet Archibald MacLeish wrote years ago. But is there a meaning to your art?

My inspiration comes not from other artists but rather from my own life experiences, which is as it should be with anyone who makes art. People look at my boxes and the first thing that rolls off their tongue is "Cornell". I can honestly say, I had no idea who Cornell was when I began making boxes and was quite surprised the first time I saw his work. I am drawn to artists who create because they have to, out of a compulsory or spiritual need, they have no choice... their very existence and faith depend upon this need to create. I feel blessed to be living in the South, where many such artists can be found. Their work is honest and unique. Art is simply another language, the language of the soul, of the heart and mind... a language of faith. If there is a meaning to my art it would be one born out of this faith, this desire to communicate.