Longview Museum of Fine Arts features an extensive permanent collection that is on display year-round. The collection includes three stunning wood sculptures by John Hillier, who recently retired from teaching art at Kilgore Community College for more than 30 years.
“MaleStorm/Twister” stands up to six feet, four inches, depending on its position. The moveable statue celebrates the dynamic nature of the human form, comparing it to the twister, one of nature’s most violent forces. Pegs and moveable parts allow changes in the sculpture’s shape, size and position. The upper part of the sculpture is most dynamic, featuring a radial cluster of outstretched arms.
Hillier uses a medium known as “paralam plywood,” an arrangement of flat plywood boards fastened together. He meticulously carves the edges before assembling them and later applies stain and laminate to give the conjoined layers a rich, dimensional effect.
The seamless wood layers suggest durability and strength, and the defined muscles of the ideal male human form, as expressed in Michelangelo’s “David.” Yet, with a conglomeration of moveable limbs, the headless “MaleStorm/Twister” bears features of modern art.
Hillier donated another sculpture, “The Preacher, 1996,” to LMFA’s permanent collection. Measuring 28 by 12.5 by 18.5 inches, the carved oak bust includes only a head and torso, with emphasis on the subject’s head.
With head tilted back, mouth open, and lips tensed, the preacher appears to be in the throes of delivering a powerful message. Viewers can almost hear the subject’s booming voice, yet may wonder why the figure appears diminutive in stature.
Hillier’s third sculpture, “Q Into A Won’t Go,” is also carved wood and is on loan from the artist. The headless torso features a sumptuous female’s breasts and belly, measuring 20.5 by 15.5 by 14.5 inches. The piece is erotically suggestive, yet challenges viewers to question messages cast by both subject and artist.
Before joining Kilgore College for most of his career, Hillier studied art at the University of Texas in Austin. Originally from Odessa, he completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts at Texas Tech University (TTU). He taught fine arts at Odessa College before joining the Kilgore faculty. Hillier’s works are also on display at TTU.
LMFA is located at 215 E. Tyler Street, Longview, Texas 75606. For more information about the museum, visit www.lmfa.org.
See more of Hillier’s sculptures and drawings at www.jhilliersculpture.com.
LMFA’s Executive Director Tiffany Jehorek speaks about Hillier’s works on display in the museum’s permanent collection. Pictured is MaleStorm/Twister, a six-foot moveable sculpture in the permanent collection at Longview Museum of Fine Arts.