Reality Is Not Real: Winfred Hawkins Exhibition Recap

Winfred Hawkins, a Montgomery, Alabama based artist, has filled Kentuck's Gallery at Hotel Indigo with thought-provoking acrylic pieces which speak to his personal struggles and transformations. Reality Is Not Real, on view until May 3, 2021, focuses on the myriad of ways in which we interact with the world around us and is dedicated to those who have dyslexia, a learning disorder with which Hawkins is well acquainted.


Reality is Not Real encompasses Winfred's experiences with dyslexia and the confusion that it has caused him. He recalls, "As far as dyslexia is concerned, there are many different problems that arisewhether that's interpreting language differently or writing upside down and backwards and not knowing it. There's been many different times where I've been taking a test, in high school or something, and I think 'Oh yeah! I know all these answers,' and I'm marking down and hand in my paper. And the next day, you get your paper back, and you're like, 'What is this? These are not my answersI know all of these. I don't know why these aren't correct."


"In that respect, it's like what you think is there is not really there... You have to make sure you're seeing what you're seeing sometimes."


Born in Montgomery, Winfred began drawing at an early age, developing drafting skills by observing his father draw and by copying animals from nature books. He cultivated his talents throughout high school at Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in Montgomery before receiving his Bachelors degree from Savannah College of Art and Design. Despite establishing his visual identity, Hawkins' style changed drastically in 2012 when he suffered a nerve injury that affected both of his arms. Now, Hawkins works to incorporate the use of both hands.

Hawkins mostly uses his non-dominant right hand for sketching, but sometimes paints an entire work right-handed. He reserves his left hand for work that is more involved in style, as well as subject matter. In Reality Is Not Real, Hawkins created with his non-dominant hand to further illustrate the complexities of having to navigate through society and all of its intricacies.


"using my opposite hand to paint these paintings is basically an experiment or a way of trying to capture something dealing with communication and how hard it is to communicate a specific message... How do I communicate something I don't have words for?"


The stories that Winfred is telling through these works are rooted in his personal experiences. Specific memories are recreated visually for the viewer to interpret. Reality Is Not Real #30-The Chalkboard recalls Winfred's experience in the education system and constant erasure of the chalkboard in the attempt to write the correct answer.


Several pieces feature figures with multiple eyes, which, for Hawkins, represent the dual realities that he has experienced. "I remember one day I was trying to listen to this interview or trying to go to a show, and I was looking at my clock and said, 'Okay, I've got to remember because I'm gonna go to this show.' So I'm sitting there, and I look at the clock, and it says 6:00. As I'm looking at it, the 6 morphs into an 8. I'm like, wow, that's not fair! That's not my fault. This idea of plural realities or dual realities... I know what it is, but when I go to try to write it or to put it down, it comes out as something different."

The experiences that Hawkins has captured in Reality Is Not Real challenges the viewer to consider their own experiences and communicates the importance of carefully choosing words and reactions. See these works in person at Hotel Indigo in Downtown Tuscaloosa until May 3, 2021.


Where can you find Winfred?

In 2020, Winfred worked with two other artists to create a mural on the side of The King’s Canvas art studio in Montgomery on historic Oak Street, along the route where hundreds of Selma to Montgomery marchers walked to the State Capitol in 1965. Winfred Hawkins also works as Programs Manager for ArtsRevive in Selma. Follow him on Instagram: @WinfredHawkins and @33akachi.


Available Works:


Interested in purchasing a piece of Winfred's work? Please email kentuck@kentuck.org or give us a call at 205-758-1257.


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