It is the first Friday of October and Alix Hitchcock is pacing around the open space, waiting for people to show up for the opening of her show at Artworks Gallery on Trade Street. A group of friends walk in and she greets them with a giant hug. Other guests show up and she is laughing and talking.
After a couple more minutes, with a smile plastered on her face, Hitchcock walks over to some of the visitors, who are looking at her collection of nature-inspired pieces on the wall, 14 gelatin monotype prints that hang on the walls of the gallery.
“[The pieces] are very organic, vibrant and full of energy,” Julia Epstein, one visitor, said.
This organic yet vibrant nature is portrayed in Hitchcock’s collection of work titled, “Flying, Swimming, Landing,” which is being displayed in Artworks Gallery from now until Nov. 1, 2014.
As a suburban child of the 1950s, Hitchcock’s family never cooked from produce or gardened, so it was not until after college that she developed a fascination with the environment, she said.
Hitchcock graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking and Painting in 1973. Hitchcock said that she thought of herself as a hippie then with an interest in the environment and that contributed to her nature-inspired pieces.
“A lot of people in my generation were like lets go back to the land and do everything from scratch,” Hitchcock said. “It was the idea that you should be out there learning.”
After receiving her Masters in Painting from New York University in 1983, Hitchcock moved back to North Carolina to live on a solar house and mini farm with her husband.
At the beginning of Jimmy Carter’s Presidential term, Hitchcock and her husband received an educational/outreach Solar Demonstration grant from the federal government to showcase their new solar house for people who might be interested in building one too.
Her time spent on the farm and her love for all things in nature is depicted in her current collection, which has images of water, air, dancers and animals.
“Hearing more and more about all the problems with the environment and living on the farm affected me, and I got more and more interested,” Hitchcock said.
Her love for the environment is even represented in the non-toxic materials she uses. Hitchcock makes gelatin monotype prints. To get the look, she rolls ink onto a gelatin plate and then places flat stencils on top. New colored ink is then placed over the stencils to get the effect and Hitchcock finishes her pieces by coloring some of prints in. A detailed explanation of this technique hangs on a wall in the gallery so visitors can learn about this primitive type of printmaking.
“I didn’t know that it was a method of printmaking, but it is really interesting to see how it works,” Anthony Mazzucca, a visitor, said.
Hitchcock said that her mother was an artist and taught her to draw as a child. Since she was exposed to the art world at such a young age, Hitchcock never thought she would make a career out of it because it came naturally to her.
“I thought if you were to be something, it would have to be something you were working hard at and not something that came naturally,” Hitchcock said.
In her first year of college, however, she decided that art was what she wanted to pursue and she has stuck with it ever since.
After returning to Winston-Salem from NYU, Hitchcock helped establish Artworks Gallery, which has been in business for 30 years. She also taught at Wake Forest University for 23 years. Over those years, she has seen the presence of the arts downtown grow from nothing into a prospering community.
“It was homeless people and empty storefronts,” Hitchcock said. “It was a nasty neighborhood and no one would come to our openings because they were afraid and now we are the oldest organization.”
Even though she has been showing her work for many years now, Hitchcock has no intention on retiring soon.
“My main goal is to keep working and making things that I’m interested in,” Hitchcock said.