It is tough to say goodbye to my teacher and my friend, Kathryn Hixson. I’m sure that it is tough for a lot of us here, whether we were friends of Kathryn’s, former or current students, or one of the thousands who have been impacted by her work as a critic, curator or editor.
I can’t measure the impact she has had on this corner of the art world, although it is nothing short of profound, but of course it would feel that way because her impact on me was profound.
Without a doubt this week’s episode will be dedicated to her, but it is more correct to say, that for me, Bad at Sports is dedicated to Kathryn. She was the one who planted the seeds for me. She was the one who taught me that there was a lot to be learned from interrogating the world around us. She was the one who taught me that sometime the answers were not in the studio, but in your community. She was also the one that talked me out of becoming an architect.
Years after I had finished my Masters degree, I bought her dinner, in the hopes that she would write me a letter of recommendation. I planning on going back to school to become an architect. She said “No,” and it shocked the heck out of me. She said she would write me as many letters, for as many teaching jobs as I would ever want to apply for, but that she would never write a letter to help me move out of being an artist.
Beyond the countless hours she spent in my studio when I was a high-maintenance grad student, and the hundreds more she spent with me as a friend in the years that followed, I remember the day she told me “No.” She was like that: tough enough to say “no” to a friend and do it with love. It was the same ethic she manifested in decades of pushing emerging Chicago art out into a world that has more reasons not to care, than care. She was strong enough to fight for what she believed in, even if what she believed in was you at a time when you had given up all hope.
Good bye Kathryn. We love you and thank you.