April Hickox, Looking Glass – Katy McCormick

[Fall 1993]

by Katy McCormick

April Hickox’ visual narratives weave together fact and fancy, dream and memory. The images she selects and orders into sequences, diptychs and polyptychs-some photographed in a direct way, some staged, others “found” ortakenfrom historical sources-evoke a sense of moments lived, memory, passage and transformation.

Over the years, Hickox has worked with images which resonate, in particular, with a generation of women who grew up in the sixties and seventies-those of us who grew up playing with Barbie dolls (and G.I. Joes), those of us who were thrilled and terrorized by Dorothy’s adventures in the The Wizard of Oz. As adults we have had to sort out the difference between imposed (gender-related) expectations and truly personal choices. Hickox has explored many of the myths encountered in this process-one which takes place in a cultural context, with all its attendent norms and codes.

In When the Mind Hears (presented in the exhibition Embodied Spaces, under the auspices of the Mois de la Photo à Montréal, September 8 to October 3, 1993) a work in two parts, Hickox focuses on language and communication issues vis à vis her role as a parent. When the Mind Hears, Part II, composed of two films and a collection of tiny objects, calIs attention to bodily senses: touch, sight, and hearing, and the various ways in which communication occurs. Within the exhibition space, these films, one in colour and one in black-and-white, counter one another, articulating different «languages.» Much like Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Through the Looking Glass, we experience shifts as we move through a labyrinthine world trying to decipher what is being said. In When the Mind Hears, Partll, (onlya portion of which is presented here) a series of photographic diptychs and singular images reflect the artist’s attentive observation of her daughter’s development. These photographs juxtapose Hickox’ own sensations and memories with those of her young child, suggesting a parallel between the heightened sensitivity to vision possessed by both herself and her daughter. Hickox also demonstrates a keen attention to nature, its rhythms and cycles: They are rhythms akin to those in our own lives, filled with music and silence, anticipation and bloom. Her images reflect moments when the mind hears, when the eyes caress, when the hands speak…

April Hickox currently lives and works in Toronto. She studied photography and engraving at the Ontario College of Art. April Hickox is a co-founder of Gallery 44, a self-managed artists’ centre in Toronto devoted to photography. Her work has been shown in numerous exhibitions in Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Quebec City and is represented by the Garnet Press Gallery in Toronto.

Katy McCormick received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1984 from the University of California at Santa Barbara, California. In 1987 she received a Master of Fine Arts degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1988-89 she taught photography at Northwestern University, and at Elmhurst College, in Illinois, then in 1991-92 at Concordia University. In 1992 she was presented in a solo exhibition at galerie VOX, in Montreal and at The Toronto Photographers Workshop. Between 1982 and 1992, she participated in several group exhibitions in The United States and Canada.

Related article :
April Hickox, La carte de l’être – Denis Lessard