Moorpark College Art Gallery presents Artist Patrick Earl Hammie along with his ‘Birth Throes’ project


Portrait of artist Patrick Earl Hammie provided by himself

By Mikayla Gay

The Moorpark College Art Department presented Artist Patrick Earl Hammie over Zoom for this year’s artist lecture series based on diversity and inclusion. The audience was mostly apart of the art program and the others were there to just watch.

Professor Erika Lizée, Visual Arts Department Chair and Art Gallery Director at Moorpark College, reached out to Hammie about contributing his work on this year’s artist lecture series.

Lizée heard about the death of George Floyd and felt an urge to make this upcoming academic year’s series about diversity and inclusion, especially after reading a message that Dr. Julius Sokenu had sent out to the Moorpark College campus community regarding what had happened.

Dr. Sokenu’s words inspired me to question ‘How can I be an ally? What can I do in my own sphere to support and promote justice, equity and inclusion?’,” Lizée expressed. “With that in mind, and with the virtual artist talks as something I wanted to create for the upcoming academic year, I decided to focus the series on diversity and inclusion and invite artists whose work was directly inspired by their life experience as a minority.”

For this lecture series, the art program looks for artists who have critical thinking and technical skills to give advice to students in the program. Artists are picked from diverse backgrounds, but particularly those who have pieces to communicate their life experiences.

“I am looking forward to hearing him speak about his work in relation to his experience as a Black man in America. With the artist lecture series being fully online, it has allowed me to bring Professor Hammie to our campus, when in ordinary times this would not be the case, as he teaches at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign,” Lizée emphasized.

Hammie studied drawing in college and afterwards obtained an MFA in painting from the University of Connecticut. Hammie is currently the Associate Professor and Chair of Studio Art at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne.

During the lecture, Hammie gave words of inspiration to the students in the art program by explaining his many pieces of art, showing his technical skills and most of all his story.

Hammie described multiple paintings in the lecture, but “Birth Throes” is a more unique and meaningful project to him.

“’Birth Throes’ is special to me. I began the project in 2015 after helping my mother through a stroke that limited her communication and mobility, and through feeling personally overwhelmed by the constant reminders in media of how little Black lives matter in America,” Hammie shared.

Art from
2016, oil on linen, by artist Patrick Earl Hammie in his Birth Throes project.

The project “Birth Throes” carries Hammie’s family story and shows his experiences in life.

“The project focuses on my birth and lineage as a case study using delivery, death and prophecy to recognize the innovation, rebellion and hope of Black familyhood defined through intergenerational acts of survival against institutional injustice,” Hammie revealed.

The project reminded Hammie that he is not only valuable, but it also gave him a sense to continue to fight for a future.

“After Breonna Taylor’s and George Floyd’s deaths, and being isolated inside, it was my way to remember that I’m valuable, with a past and present, and continuing to fight for a future,” Hammie expressed.

Gemma Kimble, a student in the art program, said it was her first time in this month’s artist lecture series on diversity and inclusion.

“This was my first time attending one of these lectures but based on just this one alone, I think Patrick Earl Hammie shined a light on the fight against systemic racism in our institutions, and did a great job using his art for representation and giving a voice to those who have been unheard for much too long,” Kimble shared.

Honors Program Student, Kathy Rodriquez, explained why she enjoyed Hammie’s artist lecture.

“I liked his point of trying to be ok with enjoying making art and that being the reason as to why you made it. For joy. It doesn’t need to be boundary pushing- you can do it for your own joy,” Rodriquez explained.

More information on Artist Patrick Earl Hammie can be found here.