FotoFest Exhibitions

Liz Hickok

Selected By: Rixon Reed, Director, Photoeye Books and Print,
Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States

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Liz Hickok is an artist who, dare I say, likes to have fun making art. Hickok’s amazing images of a colorful San Francisco constructed from Jell-O are full of childhood’s wonder. Around every corner and down every street, you can see evidence of her delight in producing this work. From the models she has intricately and obsessively crafted to the adept piecing together of blocks of skyscrapers and neighborhoods of Victorian houses, it’s clear that she approaches the challenge of making art with a child’s eyes and vivid imagination. It’s the nighttime, romantic, jazzy city that is most attractive to Hickok, with San Francisco in her hands echoing New York as envisioned by Red Grooms. Then there are the Telegraph Hill and Twin Peak neighborhoods, Coit Tower looking a bit flaccid, the Marina district with the Palace of Fine Arts, and downtown San Francisco with its buildings floating in a sea of fog alongside the fantastically lit Bay Bridge, all with their colors glowing as a result of being expertly lit from below. San Francisco in Jell-O is a wonderfully wacky, expressionistic interpretation of a city prone to, appropriately enough, being shaken. There’s even documentation of an occasional tremor rippling through the work in the various short videos Liz Hickok has produced, viewable on her website.

And what might photography have to do with all of this? Apart from its use in the straight documentation of the installations, photography allows Liz Hickok to play with the city’s inevitable decline. After only a week of existence at room temperature, those luminously colored cityscapes begin to lose their vibrancy. In its decline, an Francisco becomes misshapen, then takes on new life as it hosts a further inhabitant, a spectacular kind of mold. Ms. Hickok’s photographic interpretations serve as the only record of the decay of each gelatinous culture and perhaps even as a metaphor for our time.

- Rixon Reed


Liz Hickok is a San Francisco-based artist working in photography, video, sculpture, installation, and now Jell-O. She earned a B.F.A. at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and a B.A. at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Hickok lived and worked in Boston for over ten years before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her M.F.A. from Mills College, Oakland.Hickok’s artwork has been exhibited across the country and is included in international collections. Her photographs and video have been shown in many Bay Area venues, including the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Southern Exposure, both located in San Francisco; San Jose Museum of Art and Works/San Jose; Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito; and Kala Art Institute, Berkeley. Her work has also been exhibited at the Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle; Arts & Literature Laboratory, New Haven; and Ha’Kibbutz Israeli Art Gallery, Tel Aviv. Hickok’s San Francisco in Jell-O, installed at Pittsburg State University, Kansas, has become a popular media subject, with coverage in The New York Times, Harper’s, San Francisco magazine, Gastronomica, 7X7 magazine, and Artweek, where it appeared on the cover. She has been featured on national and local news and radio programs, including The CBS Early Show, Offbeat America (HGTV), Spark* (KQED), All Things Considered (NPR), and Talk of the Nation (NPR). Hickok also appeared on the Food Network Awards Show, where she won an award for “Best Use of Food as Art Medium.” Hickok has created elaborate installations for the Headlands Center for the Arts and the Exploratorium, San Francisco, as well as in Scottsdale, Arizona, through the Scottsdale Public Art Program.