Every artist has a vision, and for Winfred Hawkins, that means envisioning an entire cosmos of twisted mythologies filtered through the unbridled imagination of children. The result is grotesque and sublime.
“My thing was trying to bridge the gap between a child’s reality and the real reality,” Winfred said. “According to a kid’s rationale, they see the sunset and where does it go? It just dissolves into the ocean.”
Am I overselling his work? Maybe. But in Winfred’s mind’s eye, each image is part of a sprawling mythology that continues to unfold. Gods older than time itself watch with bemusement as lost baby gods stranded on the mundane, banal Earth, try to go on with their eternal lives.
“The happening place to be if you’re a god is on the sun, because they just hang out and barbecue or whatever they want to do,” he explained, adding that atlases – the gods who drive planets like divine public transit systems – rushing to and from deity parties sometimes end up a little sloshed, and one drunk-driving incident destroyed part of a solar system and stranded nascent gods far from their heavenly homes. “Some of the kids fly off into outer space and they can’t really control their powers so they can’t come back yet … That’s where the Boy and the other characters come from. They were the ones that couldn’t get back.”
The older gods, so old even their names have been forgotten, “were like, instead of going down and rescuing these kids, they say ‘let’s just see what happens.'”
The main character, so to speak, is a little blue-skinned godling called Boy (representing Hawkins himself) and a small wild-eyed monkey god (that occasionally looks like a giant cuddly bear) called JaKub.
“He doesn’t really kinda have a name,” Winfred said of his little blue avatar. “The Boy is me and my dad used to call me that when he’d get mad. He used to always call me ‘boy’ all the time. … He grew up having to drink from colored water fountains, so for someone to call him ‘boy’ is very disrespectful, so it was the closest thing he could do to cursing at me without actually doing it.”
I met Winfred while on my trip through the South recently. History is important to him, and he was given the opportunity to contribute to the history of his hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, when he was chosen to design reliefs for the Rosa Parks Library and Museum. He began the project in high school but, due to funding delays, it was not completed till after college.
A lot of Winfred’s photo collage art is made using photos of Montgomery, though wherever they were taken, all photos in space gods series were taken by Winfred or by his friends.
Winfred used to create more hyperrealist art (like “Amanda the Strong” seen here next to an altered historic photo of Lincoln), but nerve pain in his arms forced him to expand. He’s now experimenting with different mediums and mixing and matching techniques to express his ideas.
He’s still looking for the right outlet for his art right now, considering various online sources, but I wanted to share it with you guys first. I try to share art that catches my fancy whenever I can.