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Letitia Huckaby

The artist on cultural heritage, family lineage, faith & reframing of the photographic image to achieve surprising, fresh, and engaging results

Sugar and Spice Pigment Print on Vintage Cotton Picking Sack 6’ x 2’ 2018

Sugar and Spice Pigment Print on Vintage Cotton Picking Sack 6’ x 2’ 2018

To start, tell us about yourself. What’s your background & how did you get into making art?

My artistic practice started with dance. I studied ballet, tap, jazz and modern from the ages of 4-18. During high school I was able to participate in the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute in modern dance, and it was during that time that I was exposed to photography as an art form. I was mesmerized, but my parents were not so impressed. So when I went to the University of Oklahoma I studied Journalism with an emphasis in Advertising (a practical path). Consequently, that degree afforded me the opportunity to return to the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute as their Public Relations Intern, and reintroduce me to the wonders of photography thru the work of Christopher James. I was so moved by his documentary project that I sold my car, found a roommate on the internet in the late 90s and moved to Boston to study under Mr. James at the Art Institute of Boston (now the art school for Lesley University). It was the beginning of my life as an artist. Since then, I have attained a Master’s degree from the University of North Texas, have work in a number of prestigious collections and have been able to exhibit both nationally and internationally.

What are you currently working? Describe your most recent body of work.

My current project, “Suffer/Rage,” focuses on the political ethos and gender issues in our world today. Suffrage is defined as the right to vote and a series of intercessory prayers or petitions. At this point, I have partnered with over 20 women of color artists from across the United States and Canada to create their own protest sign that expresses their personal suffrage and or prayers for the future. Women like Pamela Phatismo Sunstrum, a recent ArtPace Resident based in Toronto, Canada. Valerie Maynard has also agreed to participate. Ms. Maynard, born in Harlem in 1937, is an African-American sculptor, and printmaker based in Baltimore Maryland. She is a matriarch of the art world. A third example of the breath of artists in the project is Tina Medina. A Dallas based artist and professor who was selected by the Mexic-Arte Museum to be showcased in the 7th Annual Young Latino Artist’s Exhibition. All of the images will be printed onto vintage fabrics; sugar sacks, flour sacks and cotton-picking sacks. My piece, “Sugar and Spice,” includes an image of my ten year-old daughter holding a protest sign that says “Enough” in spray paint. Her pose is reminiscent of Norman Rockwell’s painting “The Problem We All Live With,” an iconic image of the Civil Rights Movement. The image is printed onto a six foot vintage cotton picking sack that references slavery, and the phrase “Enough” was taken from a recent speech by Dr. Martin Luther King’s nine year old granddaughter, Yolanda King, at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. where she spoke in front of a crowd of hundreds of thousands and said: “I have a dream that enough is enough, and that this should be a gun-free world. Period.” Suffer/Rage will be finished in 2020, a big political year and the centennial for the women’s right to vote. This project gives voice to a vast group of female creatives of color during this historic time.

Kijana Martin: Fear of Beauty Pigment Print on Vintage Flour Sack 29

Kijana Martin: Fear of Beauty Pigment Print on Vintage Flour Sack 29" x 14" 2019

Jessica Bell: Who Am I? Pigment Print on Vintage Flour Sack 36.5 x 21.5

Jessica Bell: Who Am I? Pigment Print on Vintage Flour Sack 36.5 x 21.5

Where do you find inspiration when starting a new body of work?

My inspiration comes from my cultural heritage, my family lineage and my faith.

Do you work in distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?

I tend to work on distinct projects, I am a documentary photographer at heart. Everything I do starts with the image, I just shift how I choose to present that image (as instillation, sculpture or a 2D object).

Describe a day in your studio. What is your schedule like, how do you divide your time?

I am a wife and mother of three children, ages 13, 10 and 2. So my studio practice consists of time I can squeeze in while the children are at school. I like to keep the evenings for family time so I schedule photo shoots, print work and return emails for the most part between 9am and 2pm. I also teach a class at a local community college on Monday and Wednesday mornings from 9:30-12.

Andrea Tosten: Mushrooms & Weeds Pigment Print on Vintage Flour Sack 36.5

Andrea Tosten: Mushrooms & Weeds Pigment Print on Vintage Flour Sack 36.5" x 22" 2018

Given our current cultural climate, the importance of artists is undeniable, we need them now more than ever. Do you find the social responsibility intimidating at all or does this help fuel your work?

The current cultural climate fuels my work! My work deals directly with comparing the struggles of today with the struggles of the past from a minority perspective. How have things changes and how have they stayed the same, is the question I seem to be asking over and over again. It’s the reason I love using vintage and heirloom fabrics in my work. Those pieces have a history already built into them and when paired with a contemporary image it creates a dialogue across generations.

Sanah’s 3 Cents Pigment Print on Vintage Sugar Sack 33

Sanah’s 3 Cents Pigment Print on Vintage Sugar Sack 33" x 18" 2019

What is one art related book and non-art related book that you recommend other artists read?

Right now I am reading, “When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice,” by Terry Tempest Williams and it speaks life to me.

How did you get your first exhibition?

My very first exhibit was in Boston at Wally’s Jazz Cafe, a historic jazz club that was on the chitlin’ circuit. I had completed my first documentary project of black and white images on fiber paper, telling the story of the older gentlemen that frequent the venue during the day and the owner allowed me to exhibit the work. They have a complete set of that project, entitled “Syncopation,” permanently installed.

Ari B.: White Women Voted for Trump Pigment Print on Vintage Cotton Picking Sack 110” x 27” 2019

Ari B.: White Women Voted for Trump Pigment Print on Vintage Cotton Picking Sack 110” x 27” 2019

Learn More

Letitia Huckaby was one of 5 winners of the inaugural Hopper Prize where she received an individual artist grant.

To learn more about Letitia and her work:

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