Aaron Hequembourg is an artist; this is clear the minute you lay eyes on his collection. What isn’t so evident is the story behind his work, and the faces of those in his pieces. Those stories are as important to each engraving as the materials used to create them.
In 1997, Aaron and his new wife, Hope, moved to her family’s rural Georgia farm. The property has been in her family since 1815, and much like many large farms in the south, their new home had a history. Aaron describes the farm as being like a small town, even having its own store at one time.
What remained when the Hequembourgs moved in were strong reminders of the property’s past: a number of sharecropper homes. Not only were the homes still standing, but members of the families that worked those lands were also still in the area. Faced with the question of what to do with these structures that stood vacant but held so much weight, Aaron decided that instead of burning them down, he would repurpose the materials into pieces of art.
Many of Aaron’s art feature the faces of one couple in particular, Willie and Josephine. Willie and his wife, Josephine, have lived in the community for many years. Willie has lived on the farm his entire life, with generations of his family having worked the land. Josephine has never left the county that she lives in, and has never seen a reason to.
In many ways, the work that Aaron does captures the physical history of the farm and molds it together with the future – the families that live on it and around it today.
Although he does possess the skills of crafting and creating, his story, and the story behind his work are important elements to each of his pieces. Aaron’s art not only features a subject, but each has details that catch the eye. From catalog pages to images of lynching, Aaron doesn’t shy away from the controversial. History, regardless of who it belongs to, deserves to be told.
Cultural history and American history are the threads that weave the fabric of his pieces, and that shared history is what is captured in the engravings and construction of each one that he creates.
Assistant Gallery Manager
UNSPOKEN will be on display at Sozo Gallery from February 2 - February 16