A Reflection From John Hawke

Hello Professor Decker,

I understand that you are interested in the experiences of former Pratt art history students, so with the passage of some years, here are some recollections that remain from the sieve of memory:

In 1999, I had the great fortune to study Northern Baroque art with Frima Fox Hofrichter and Chinese landscape painting with Borhua Wang.  At that time, I was enrolled as an MFA candidate with a focus in painting, but due largely to the experience of that fall 1999 semester, I later switched to the combined degree program of fine arts and art history.

Professor Hofrichter made a great impression for her dynamic enthusiasm and profound knowledge of the subject area.  I remember her class as being both challenging and rich, and having benefited at its completion from the creation of a robust art historical structure for a period which I had previously only studied independently.  She showed great faith in me as a student scholar, and for that too, I am grateful.

Professor Wang gave me the most precious gift a teacher can give to a student, that is, to open the door to a field of knowledge that they would have never have had access to otherwise.  With an artistic formation in plein air landscape painting, I had previously found the Chinese landscape painting tradition, with its monochromatic mists, to be monotonous and blank. Over the course of the semester studying with Professor Wang however, I became attuned to the subtle poetry and serene beauty of landscape as metaphor in lieu of landscape as illusionism  The class was rigorous in guiding us deep into that terrain, and to this day, I remain profoundly affected by a perceptual change induced by an introduction to this tradition.

As I am now a teacher myself, teaching art to middle and high school students at the American school in Lisbon, Portugal, I am able, in some small way, to pass on this lineage to my students, so I am very thankful for Professor Wang as her class had a profound effect on my artistic practice, my teaching practice and greatly enriched my life.

Please feel free to use these recollections however you see fit.  Thank you.

Yours Truly,

John Hawke

Oct. 21, 2017