Artist Tim Hawkinson: Biography & Art

Instructor: Benjamin Truitt

Benjamin has a Bachelors in philosophy and a Master's in humanities.

Tim Hawkinson is an American artist and sculptor who focuses on answering questions about identity through his works. He also uses unconventional and everyday material to craft his extraordinary pieces.

Tim Hawkinson: Biography and Art

'I don't adhere to a particular working method. I try to remain open to different attitudes and ways of working.' - Tim Hawkinson

Tim Hawkinson (1960-Present) is an American sculptor and artist who focuses on developing works that ask questions about identity and self. He is not tied to a particular method of creation or topic, but rather examines issues of identity through the use of parody or absurdity as a means of reflecting on different aspects of what it means to be an individual. Hawkinson's tinkering method of sculpting has earned him international acclaim in the US and abroad, and his work has landed everywhere from museums to the covers of Beck albums.


Tim Hawkinson was born in San Francisco in 1960 in a middle-class home to parents who were antiques dealers. He grew up during the rise of post-modern art. He had many opportunities to play with old pieces of equipment and even built his own toys. Tim attended San Jose University and received his MFA from UCLA in 1989, studying under artist Charles Ray, who focused on questions of identity with his sculptures and moved from medium to medium in a quest to represent his questions about self and its relation to others.

Hawkinson was inspired by Ray's quest to find identity and self as well as his detachment from the comfort of working with a particular medium. Hawkinson works with every conceivable material and even uses unconventional materials to create his works. For instance, he made a bird skeleton using his nail clippings and built a Harley motorcycle entirely out of feathers. Hawkinson's work revolves around examining and discussing absurdity and function in his sculptures in a quest to better understand his identity and what identity means.

Hawkinson's Art: Mobius Ship, Bear, and Uberorgan

Tim Hawkinson's art is very diverse in size and subject, ranging from a miniature bird skeleton made of his own detritus to the massive Uberorgan. Hawkinson is drawn to the use of unconventional materials and transforming them into something unexpected or absurd. Let's look at three of Hawkinson's pieces: Mobius Ship, Bear, and Uberorgan.

Tim Hawkinson Mobius Ship
Tim Hawkinson Mobius Ship

Mobius Ship (2006) is on display in the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Hawkinson took a variety of household objects -- like cardboard and twist-ties -- and fashioned them into the bizarre and unusual sculpture of a model ship that is seemingly emerging from a mobius strip. Hawkinson cleverly titled the piece to visually capture the theme and symbolism of Moby Dick, and to question the self-destructive and, in Hawkinson's view, circular quest for meaning in our forming of an American identity.

Tim Hawkinson Bear
Tim Hawkinson Bear

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