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Meet Charles Hickey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Charles Hickey.

Charles, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in Atlanta, GA to a family of artists. My father, a painter/printmaker and my mother a graphic designer, exposed me to art my whole life but it was in math class that I decided to pursue the arts as a career path. My math teacher introduced me to modular origami and I began constantly folding units to build large geometric structures, sometimes larger than I was. I began designing ways to hang these structures and got hooked by overcoming the challenges the material gave. I still pull from the idea of individual unities being used to create large scale structures in many aspects of my work.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In my decision to attend Syracuse University for graduate school, I had such hubris towards the weather and thought I would have only a little struggle getting accustomed to the cold. The reality was, of course, quite a different matter. The winters there affect me dramatically and even led me to making a series of videos where I just sit in bed staring at the wall for hours, which is what I would have been doing with or without the camera. I learned a lot about my mental state and body in the first winter there and overall, I find it was a fruitful experience to exist for months in a drastically different climate. Shout out to vitamin D pills and happy lights but Syracuse winter is nothing to underestimate.

Charles Hickey Studio – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
In all of my work, I think about the build-up of individual units, simple things, to create complicated forms or organizations. In these build ups, I look for how repetition showcases dedicated time and the technical ability of the hand. Alongside these notions of the hand and technical skill, I think about ideas shared with me by my father through toy making. Toys were an early means of digesting early notions of masculinity and I am always trying to figure out connections between the understanding of masculinity I have today and the prevalence of the handmade in my childhood.

I spend a lot of time thinking about algorithms and how simple steps within a constrained process can create phenomena capable of expressing wide ranges of emotions. The most powerful reference I have for this is music, particularly choral music, that takes the simple note of one human voice and turns it into a system and structure that can simultaneously make one feel giddy and hopeless, powerful and insignificant. These areas of blurred emotion that are created from clear defined structure are what pull in and keep me making and thinking.

In searching for the confusion and emotional switching I experience in music within the handmade process, I am constantly running into my own preconceived notions of handmade labor and craft and attempting to break down how and why I came to believe what I believe.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
When I was in my undergrad at Winthrop University, I installed a show of photographs comparing the way some men rank other men and how they rank meat. I was thinking about how numbers were used as a comparison point to attribute worth to both men and meat in hyper-masculine circles, be it counting experiences, partners, or pounds. At the show, I had an athlete on the track team come up to me and say one of my photographs was everything he had experienced in his athletic career but never had the words to express. He told me about his experience speaking with trainers and scouts and how his self-worth became relegated to meeting all of the numbers they were looking for but he did not realize it until then. I still consider those words he shared with me the proudest and most powerful moment I have experienced in relation to my artwork.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @charleshickeystudio

Image Credit:
Laurence Hervieux-Gosselin, David Broda, Charles Hickey

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