By Rosemary Carstens
Father and son sculptors Mark and Eli Hopkins were born in the deep South, and both, as Mark says, “have a deeply rooted sense of American heritage” that is frequently reflected in their art. While each artist works with wildlife and figurative subjects, Mark’s sculptures tend toward the classical, with what he calls “a variable abstract approach,” while Eli’s often have a more contemporary flair. Mark attended the Atlanta College of Art at Georgia State University but is otherwise self-taught. His success and the high bar of perfection he sets for himself have made a mark on Eli. And, as Eli readily admits, “being the son of Mark Hopkins is wonderful but also tough at times. While it’s nice to have an understanding ear to discuss creative challenges with, there’s a high standard of work to be met. Daddy has been the most influential artist in my life, but copying someone is too easy. I’d rather be independently creative.”
Growing up, Eli worked at his father’s foundry and learned a lot about molding, casting, and patina processes. He built upon this foundation by working with Art Castings of Colorado and through his extended apprenticeship under Mark. Colorado’s natural beauty and wildlife have been inspirational, although he’s recently expanded to include African wildlife among his subject matter. Eli defines himself as “a representational and ever-curious bronze sculptor” who also draws and dabbles in oils. He occasionally performs as a “living bronze statue” at various events.
Mark’s work sometimes takes a poetic turn. Because of his frequent use of negative space and minimal visual expression, he considers some of his pieces “sculptural haiku.” His longtime experience with motion, human and animal anatomy, and artistic intuition are apparent in each piece’s lyricism.
The Hopkinses have separate studios on Mark’s property, but they frequently come together to compare notes, talk shop, and make subtle—and sometimes not-so-subtle—suggestions. Eli sums up his admiration for his father’s ability, remarking, “He has an uncommon natural gift for inspiring hearts, touching lives, and making people better, happier.” But, he adds wryly, “It can be a bit irritating when I realize how similar I am to Daddy. And he relishes that people sometimes mistake us for brothers.” As for Mark, he loves to respond on these occasions, “Yes! Yes, we are, and he’s the older one!”
Mark and Eli aren’t the only artists in this creative family, either. Summer Hopkins Myers, Mark’s daughter, lives in Los Angeles, illustrates children’s books, and owns an online art-related business.
Stanfield Fine Art, Aspen, CO, and Park City, UT; A Gallery Fine Art, Palm Desert, CA; 83 Spring Street Gallery, Eureka Springs, AR; Courtyard Gallery, LaConner, WA; J.R. Mooney Galleries of Fine Art, San Antonio, TX; www.markhopkinssculpture.com.
83 Spring Street Gallery, Eureka Springs, AR; Courtyard Gallery, LaConner, WA; J.R. Mooney Galleries of Fine Art, San Antonio, TX; www.elihopkins.com.
Featured in November 2011.