NORMAN — Don’t get distracted by the whimsy of Skip Hill’s art: For this Norman artist’s latest work, there is much more than meets the eye.
Inspired by a recent trip to Brazil, Hill has spent the last six months creating collage works that reflect time spent in a culture that is both richly beautiful and deeply troubled. But for Hill, the dichotomy is only natural.
“It’s a part of life,” he said. “And I hope that’s reflected in the work.”
The approximate 30 pieces are being exhibited during “Under the Mango Tree,” Aug. 9 through Sept. 14 at MAINSITE Contemporary Art, 120 E. Main St.
The works, ranging in size from 5-by-7 inches to 3-by-4 feet, effortlessly intermingle lighthearted wit and dark romanticism and are simultaneously refreshing and thought-provoking. For Hill, it’s a perfect representation of his time spent in the exotic, South American country.
“Brazil, as beautiful as it is — I love the culture, people, food, language — is a country of great corruption, poverty, inequality, classism, their own form of racism, drugs, violence. All of that is a part of the country,” he said.
“So I didn’t go there with this doe-eyed, naive idea that it was all going to be beautiful and mangos and parrots. I knew going there that Brazil is a very — it’s a country of great contrast between the haves and the have-nots, between the educated and uneducated, there’s a growing middle class but it’s still predominately a poor country with the poor and the very, very wealthy.”
Hill used an assortment of materials to create his commentary, including acrylic paint, inks, glitter and paper from a variety of sources, primarily from Brazilian magazines.
The main focus in this series are birds that Hill said he used to symbolize the idea of diversity within a community. Hill created the abstract avian figures using free-form cut scraps of paper, often featuring words and iconography.