Hucko still prints using
photographer, author, educator, radio producer, and beloved
art coach,- is a multi faceted gemstone. Each of his facets
is easily worth a full article. He gave me quite a task,
relating the ‘cliff notes’ version of his
life and challenging me to shape it into 800 words which
express the depth and complexity of his art, his process,
and his contribution.
Hucko explained that serendipity is what led him to what
he called “the path”, on which he is creator,
follower, and leader. This article is an account of some
of the monuments, sign posts, and events that have occurred
on Hucko’s path and that continue to guide his journey.
In 1978, Hucko, a graduate in business management with
a love of photography, geology and hiking, was a dissatisfied
drywaller in Salt Lake City. He wanted to create poster
and postcard photos for the national parks (and has done
that!), but was stuck. At this time, Hucko and peers taught
a photography workshop, sponsored by Polaroid, to kids
on the Navajo Reservation in Montezuma Creek, Utah.
Dawn & Yvonne Nakai from Hucko’s navajo
portfolio “A Gesture of Kinship”
At the conclusion of
the workshop, Hucko asked the principal if there were
any jobs available. There was one-as a kindergarten aid.
Serendipity struck and the two-week workshop turned into
a ten-year, life changing commitment. After three years,
Hucko became a full time Artist-in-Residence in Montezuma
Creek through the Utah Arts Council. During his tenure
Hucko taught elementary students the principles of art
making and the basics of photography and set them loose
to create art from their own imaginations. For his efforts
the school received a 1984 Rockefeller Bros. Fund Award
for Excellence in Arts Education.
Through a series of serendipitous meetings, Hucko and
his Navajo students were invited to exhibit at the prestigious
Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe. Two major opportunities
were a direct result of this exhibit: the book A Rainbow
at Night featuring the artwork of the Navajo students
was published; and the offer to become Director of Education
for the Wheelwright Museum.
Seri Indian Shaman sings down the sun.
Hucko took the job, moved
to Santa Fe, but soon left to become the art coach to
the children in the Santa Clara, San Ildelfonso, and San
Juan Pueblo Day schools. This led to his second book of
children’s art, Where There Is No Name For Art.
It was written and illustrated by the Tewa Pueblo children
in collaboration with Hucko. Of the numerous books Hucko
has to his credit this book is my favorite. Where There
is No Name for Art expresses the beauty, imagination,
and cultural traditions of the Tewa Pueblo people through
the eyes and voices of its children. For this book Hucko
received a Southwest Book Award. The time spent with Pueblo,
Navajo and other tribal people has instilled in him the
importance of the relationship between people and place,
a theme found in all of his work.
Weaver Maxine Tsinnie of Eyedazzler project
Serendipity led Hucko
back to Moab to live and is sending him back to Montezuma
Creek. He has just received a $10,000 grant from the University
of Utah Center for Documentary Studies to study, through
photographs and interviews, the changing lives of his,
now adult, students.
Among other community endeavors, Hucko is active at the
Grand County High School with his “Voices of Youth”
project. The “Voices of Youth” project teaches
students the art and aesthetic of community- centered
This winter, Hucko will be teaching a B&W Photography
Class for adults (contact the MARC for more information)
and an after school art class for middle school students.
Next spring, Hucko will team up with KZMU, Bon Kelly and
Chris Simon to create a radio production course for teens.
In addition to his youth and community projects Hucko
makes photographs. He has at least eleven photographic
publications of landscape and southwest Indian art subjects
which feature his work exclusively. He’s completed
a number of documentary projects, and has several more
in the works including portraits of Navajo Weavers and
land stewards, and a project on patriotism. And then there
is Hucko’s portfolios of landscape and archaeological
site photographs, which are the pure expression of his
“Flame Ceiling” from Hucko’s “Ancestral
The color and Black
& White images I saw were taken with a view camera..
His images capture the abstract poetry and composition
of the landscape.
Regarding his photographic
work Hucko said, “like my poet friends, I like to
get the lines right.” Although said in jest, it
is clear that Hucko’s creative vision is like that
of a poet. He attempts, through an interplay of lines,
shapes, and values, to capture the universal essence of
his subject. Often his work, although literal and photographic,
appears non-objective and therefore is about the heart
of art and creative expression in and of itself.
In conclusion, I am not convinced that I did justice to
the gem that is Bruce Hucko. There is a lot more to know.
He has the learning, teaching, and art of many lifetimes.
He continues to be busy with many projects, books, grants,
and children’s programs. However, it is clear that
he remains firmly footed on “the path”.