The Pink Bow Project
Gallery Shoal Creek
April 13 – May 15
By Neal Baker
Portrait by Kerri Lohmeier
Karen Hawkins’ work has, in an oblique manner, often dealt with stories. Not in telling them, but in hiding them within the folds and creases of her various repurposings of books. By Hawkins turning the pages into such shapes as totems, jelly rolls, and many iterations and developments upon these forms, their printed meaning yields to a purely visual experience. With her latest work, Hawkins is flipping the script — she wants stories to be told, and hers is one of them.
“My name is Karen, I was 10 years old.” It’s not quite comparable to the volumes of description contained within her past work, and yet we already know everything we need to. Hawkins spares us the details, because she knows that her experience isn’t important on account of how it stands out — it’s important because it doesn’t.
The difficult truth is that as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Hawkins is one of many, and her “Pink Bow Project” is an opportunity for the viewer to come face-to-face with this truth in the form of staggering numbers and staggering size. From April 13 to May 15 at Gallery Shoal Creek, her work involves tens of thousands of pink bows climbing upward on panels of fabric, one for every case like hers. More importantly, one for every deeply complicated struggle. To accompany them are the voices of the people who lived these tales, telling you just who they are and when the abuse happened. The fact is that all the books in the world couldn’t contain their stories, but Hawkins knows from experience that to be seen and to be heard are the first steps toward a happy ending.
Read more from the Spring Style Issue | April 2018