Christopher Pekoc makes handmade photographs.
John Wood, poet, educator, curator, author of more than 20 books on photography and editor of 21st: The Journal of Contemporary Photography described Pekoc’s work as “…often life-sized, beautiful, and individually handmade photographs [that] contain drawing, painting, and collage composed of smaller, colored bits of thick, stitched paper and polyester film that have been sanded, scratched, or crumpled and then coated with paint, varnish, or shellac. They bring to mind the shimmering mosaics of Ravenna, as well as many of the paintings of Gustav Klimt…” Wood also noted that Pekoc’s process of cutting and stitching his photographs suggests “a metaphor for the psychological repair and stitching back together of the self.”
Dana Gioia, award winning poet, critic, former commentator on American culture for the British Broadcasting Corporation and for six years Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts declared, “The first time I saw Christopher Pekoc’s work, I knew I was in the presence of a powerful and original artist. His work is in equal parts beautiful and unsettling which is to say that it transforms our usual sense of the beautiful to include the strange, the disturbing, and the mysterious”
Tom Hinson, Former Curator of Photography and Contemporary Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art, who has followed Pekoc’s work since the early 1970s, praises the work for its “formal beauty, technical excellence, and emotional resonance,” and ranks him as “one of the northeast Ohio’s most distinguished artists.”
Over the last twenty years, Pekoc’s unusual mixture of photography and other media has quietly attracted the attention of an international group of discriminating collectors. Pekoc’s father, grandfather and great grandfather were in the hardware business in Cleveland, and Pekoc attributes his interest in the art of assemblage to the early exposure to tools and construction projects he received while working in his father’s store in his teens and early 20’s. In his cramped basement studio, Pekoc works with an unusual array of implements and materials including a blow torch, hole punches, hammers, pins, sand paper, steel wool, shellac, wood stains, varnishes, and a sewing machine along with the more traditional brushes and paint to fashion components of his collages before cutting them up and stitching them together in unusual configurations.
Pekoc was born in Cleveland, Ohio and studied at Kent State University where, in May 1970 he witnessed the killing of four students by the Ohio National Guard and painted a large surrealistic “History Painting” (following the examples of Picasso’s “Guernica” and Gericault’s “Raft of the Medusa”) of the event. He has participated in more than 110 solo and group exhibitions at venues including the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Akron (Ohio) Art Museum, the Amarillo (Texas) Museum of Art, the Print Center, Philadelphia; the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; the Ueda Gallery, Tokyo; Fotographie Forum International, Frankfurt, Germany; Čimelice Castle, Czech Republic; and galleries in Cleveland, New York City, and other parts of the U.S.
Pekoc received five Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowships and an OAC sponsored two-month International Residency in the Czech Republic. In 2007 he won the Cleveland Art’s Prize. In 2008, Case Western Reserve University published a 72-page catalog about his work that included an extensive essay by noted art historian Henry Adams. Also that year a 20-minute video documentary, funded by Toby Devan Lewis, was produced to accompany future exhibitions. He lives in Cleveland and recently retired from teaching drawing in the Art Studio Department at Case Western Reserve University.