To accompany William Hawkins on his walks through the streets of his Columbus, Ohio, neighborhood was like following an experienced prospector in search of gold. Hawkins’s selective eye seized images from newspapers, magazines, and advertisements for a suitcase archive he kept in his bedroom. He combined these images with his own recollections and impressions to create a vivid picture gallery of animals, American icons such as the Statue of Liberty, and historic events. And although Hawkins could barely read and write, he transformed words themselves, usually represented by his signature and birth date and often his place of birth, into powerful visual elements.

Born in rural Kentucky in 1895, Hawkins came north in 1916. His early years in Kentucky provided him with his knowledge and love of animals, an awareness that informs even his most fantastic dinosaur paintings. In Columbus, Hawkins held an assortment of unskilled jobs, drove a truck, and even ran a small brothel. He was married twice and claimed to have fathered some twenty children. Although Hawkins was drawing and selling his work as early as the 1930s, he did not begin painting in the style for which he is best known until the mid-to late 1970s. He worked almost without letup thereafter, in spite of illness and advancing age. see more…


Press release for Making Itself
Time Out NY article by Anne Doran (February 2010)
Fluence  article (Mar/Apr) 2010
Folk Art Magazine article (Fall 1997)


William Hawkins by Charles Gross
William Hawkins Born KY July 27 1895
Making Itself


William Hawkins: Making Itself
William Hawkins: Architectural Paintings
William Hawkins – 2002
William Hawkins: Paintings
William L. Hawkins – 1990


William Hawkins: Paintings (book)

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