GIBSON-HUNTER

 

Clarke Art Consulting had the honor of interviewing Claudia “Aziza” Gibson-Hunter. Aziza combines printmaking and assemblage with painting to create mixed media, political art. She earned a MFA in printmaking from Howard University and went on to develop one of the first Non-Toxic printmaking studios in the country. Later, she became the co-founder of Black Artists of DC.
Aziza’s works have been exhibited New York, Texas, Argentina and Poland, and a part of the Washington DC Art Bank and John A. Wilson permanent collections.

 

Q: Where were you born?
Claudia “Aziza” Gibson-Hunter: I was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. My mother was a person steeped in culture: dance, literature, art, theatre, and music flowed through my household. I didn’t have a choice — art was always a part of my life.

Q: When did you first discover your creative talents?
Claudia “Aziza” Gibson-Hunter: My grandfather acted as a curator at the Pyramid Club House in Philadelphia, a gathering place for Black professionals. My mother, Jessie Gibson, loved art and created spaces for creativity. We made our own Piñatas for our fantastic Christmas parties. We had fashion shows, plays, dance classes and African American History classes going on right in our home. The children in our neighborhood were a part of this wonderful circus. To top it off, my father, Charles Gibson, loved to design and remodel apartments, and he asked my opinion about the renovations he was planning.
I’ve been exposed to the design of living space since I was a toddler. My neighborhood was Black, struggling to be middle class, and rich in creative energy. The creativity just flowed. It was a seamless part of life.


Q: What type of education did you receive?
Claudia “Aziza” Gibson-Hunter: The old story — I was the classroom artist. I attended Saturday school at the Lea School arts center as a child, Jeannette Banks, a wonderful Black artist and arts administrator in Philadelphia, had a program at Moore College of Art, and I was a part of that too. Overbrook High School had a art magnet program which I entered in eighth grade, and went on to the Parkway Program, where I was encouraged to take a college class in drawing anatomy at Philadelphia College of Art (now P). From there I entered Tyler College of Art, but transferred to the main campus of Temple University searching for a connection to my cultural heritage which was not available at Tyler. Next, off to Howard University for graduate school.
Since then, I have continually been taking classes, workshops, and been involved in residencies to constantly expand both knowledge and skills. Lastly, I share what I learn so I have taught [classes] from Pre-K through graduate school.

Q: How would you describe your art style?
Claudia “Aziza” Gibson-Hunter: In process. I am growing, learning, expanding. I have been influenced by everyone from Charles White to Gaugan, from Nancy Spiro to Elizabeth Catlett, Sam Gilliam, and Jeff Donaldson, the list is massive. I look at everything, everything! In process, that is all I can say — my work is in process.

Q: Have you always done the type of art you are doing now?
Claudia “Aziza” Gibson-Hunter: No. I have moved from figurative, to nonfigurative, conceptual, to totally abstract. I am on the move.


Q: What materials do you use to produce your work?
Claudia “Aziza” Gibson-Hunter: Everything. I paint with brushes, and brooms too. Much of my background is in printmaking, and painting, but I love to incorporate found objects at times. Whatever it takes to express the concept and emotion.

Q: Do you see yourself as a political artist?
Claudia “Aziza” Gibson-Hunter: Yes. All art is political. Even when I take a break from the overt political work, that is a political decision.

Q: Is there a specific statement you are trying to make with your work?
Claudia “Aziza” Gibson-Hunter: The “Suspicious Activities” Series can be confrontational. There are over 40 pieces in this collection, so this exhibition is just a sampling of the work. I don’t want to tell people what to think, I do want to encourage people to both think and feel.

Q: Lastly, any words of advice for aspiring artists?
Claudia “Aziza” Gibson-Hunters: I am going to tell aspiring artists to do what no one will tell them to do — research this business! Get to know what it is, really is, it’s quirks, nuances, and it’s rules. It will surprise you. Then, if you are still interested, go for it with everything you’ve got. See, learn, create, practice. Be open to all types of art, from everywhere in the world.