December 3, 2004
Steve Hicks still isn’t sure how he ended up at OBU, but the relationship he has with the university must be mutually beneficial, since he has been at OBU since 1980. He arrived in Shawnee by way of Eunice, Louisiana, where he served as an instructor of art at Louisiana State University-Eunice. “After I graduated from college, I remember sending out all of these resumes to colleges for a teaching position, and it’s funny because I don’t remember ever sending one to OBU. When I was at Eunice, I was actually just filling in for a guy who was on sabbatical, but was told that he would not return so it would be natural for me to get the position. But then Janie Wester (OBU art professor emeritus) called and asked me if I could come for an interview, and I told her sure,” says Steve. “We were comfortable with this campus from the start. It seemed like a good fit.”
Steve was hired as an assistant professor of art in 1980 and served in this capacity until 1985 when he was promoted to associate professor of art. He teaches courses in basic drawing, painting, photography, calligraphy and silk screen print making.
And of course, he is an artist – an award-winning artist. “I think I enjoy painting and drawing more than anything else. I also enjoy photography simply because you can see the end result more quickly than with a painting or drawing. I began doing airbrush painting, and now I just paint, for the most part.” Among Steve’s accolades are: first place in the 32nd annual exhibition of Spiva Art Center, Joplin, Missouri; second place in the Sixth Biennial Five-State Exhibition, Port Author, Texas; Third place, Louisiana Artists’s Guild Exhibition, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Purchase Award, Third Annual Tri-State Exhibition, Beaumont, Texas; finalist, and Artist’s Magazine, 1987 Landscape Competition. He also has been a Painting Fellow with Philip Pearlstein at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Some of his current works are displayed in the fine arts office at OBU, his office, and at the Starry Starry Arts art shop in Shawnee.
When asked what types of things he enjoyed painting the most, he says “I go back and forth from abstract to the very normal landscapes. The last several paintings have been considered realistic, but in these, I also look for the abstract qualities. For example, in the companion pieces I painted of the sycamore trees on campus, I painted the network of limbs and branches rather than the whole tree. In looking at the paintings, you can see the clear blue of the sky and the white of the branches, but there are many other colors in those paintings. This painting allowed me to be realistic yet also abstract.”
At OBU, students are allowed to paint in any style they wish, he says. “They usually start off doing realistic work, but in the last five years, I have seen more and more kids open to doing abstract art. And as most artists do, they shift back and forth. It’s nice to have this type of variety. One day, I may sit back and paint a portrait and the next day do an abstract, where I can concentrate on color and form.”