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Sculptor Earl Hooks dies

Man of Sorrows, 1950, marble, by Earl J. Hooks
5 p.m., Feb. 8, 2005--Earl J. Hooks, master sculptor, ceramicist and printmaker, died Jan. 6 in Manassas, Va. He was 77.

His most celebrated work, Man of Sorrows, is part of the Paul R. Jones Collection at the University and currently is on view in the inaugural exhibition, A Century of African American Art: The Paul R. Jones Collection, in Mechanical Hall.

"All of us at the University of Delaware were pleased that Mr. Hooks was able to attend the opening exhibit of the Paul Jones Collection and to see Man of Sorrows alongside works of other artists he knew and admired,” UD President David P. Roselle said. “The Paul R. Jones Collection is an important part of the legacy of all of those individuals and that is yet another reason for all of us at the University of Delaware to be pleased that this collection has been entrusted to our institution."

Paul R. Jones said Mr. Hooks will be remembered for his passion for teaching art, his personal charm and his unique art expressions that showed the African American experience in a positive and beautiful light.

“I am honored to have known him as a friend, and I am particularly proud that I have included one of the finest pieces he ever did in the Paul R. Jones Collection at the University,” Jones said. “He had a pioneering spirit and plenty of energy. Just three months ago, he joined us to celebrate the opening of the inaugural exhibit of the collection on the Newark campus. The art world is richer because of him. He will be missed, but his work will live forever.”

Artist and art historian Amalia Amaki, curator of the Paul R. Jones Collection and assistant professor of black American studies, said, “Earl Hooks was a major sculptor of the second half of the 20th Century. He not only successfully balanced being a mentor and teacher along with making important works of art, but he also never lost his touch for injecting a keen sense of humanity into his art. He mastered almost everything he undertook.”

Mr. Hooks’ works have been seen in major exhibitions at Fisk University in Nashville, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Art Institute of Chicago, Howard University, John Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, Ind., University of Rochester in New York, Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, N.Y., Fort Wayne Museum of Art in Indiana, Miami National in Florida, University of Delaware and in Lagos, Nigeria.

Born Aug. 2, 1927 in Baltimore, Mr. Hooks received a bachelor’s degree from Howard University in 1949, attended Catholic University in Washington, D.C., from 1949-51 and received graduate certificates from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1954 and the School of American Craftsman in New York in ceramics in 1955. He served as both a professor and chair of the art department at Fisk University from 1961-67 and taught at Indiana University Northwest Campus from 1954-61.

Mr. Hooks gained recognition for his unique use of monochromatic forms that maximized the inherent properties and appearances of the materials used to create his quiet, somber sculptural works. His designs frequently took on geometric or biomorphic shapes that referenced his fundamental interest in the human body and facial expressions that were windows to deeply felt and personal emotions. He was committed to portrayals related to the African American experience and creative techniques the emphasized his keen understanding of the relationships between balance, light, harmony and space, Amaki said.

Article by Martin Mbugua

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