Words by Benjamin Trager
To be honest I don’t think I have a choice, it’s just who I am.
These are some of the first words Beth Hoeckel shared with me to help understand her creative process. Hoeckel’s thoughts come across as genuine and straightforward, thoughtful and frank, and reach into a place beyond creation closer to inspiration.
Hoeckel dabbles in an array of styles and media, demonstrating a wide breadth of artistic ability. Her collages join classic imagery with ethereal landscapes. Hoeckel plays with the notions of possibility and reality as she creates these surrealist images. She’s also delved into more abstract art, creating paintings and drawings that display a less controlled side of her ability.
As Hoeckel and I exchanged emails, her words were free of creative angst and artistic affluence. It was refreshing to converse with someone who seemed so humbly sure of one’s self. We danced through the normal questions that every writer and subject so tactfully exchange in order to come to the subject matter really at hand: Hoeckel’s art. Along the way I learned the basics about Hoeckel; She lives in Baltimore (not in Brooklyn), she makes art (clearly) and she does normal people stuff (sleep, eat, read, yoga, music).
The conversation shifts to art and creativity. When talking with artists or other creatives, I inevitably ask what inspires them, and the answers seem to always be the same, “The world around me, it comes from within, etc.” Hoeckel’s answers were uniquely honest and different from what I’ve heard before. She doesn’t really know where the inspiration comes from. She knows it’s there, she knows it wells up from somewhere and she knows that it happens when it’s least expected. But she doesn’t know how, or why or when. It seems to be a matter of faith, believing that inspiration will ignite the creative process. For Hoeckel, this process is free from the impurities of premeditation, truly an intuitive craft.
“I’ve never really been satisfied doing anything else nor felt I was any good at anything else.” she says.
However, just because one is compelled to do something or feels it is an intuitive process doesn’t mean it’s easy.
While still continuing her collage work, Hoeckel has taken a creative leap into the realm of abstract painting and drawing. The change in perspective and loss of precise control were challenging for Hoeckel. Producing abstract art so completely based on the idea of letting go, stands in stark contrast from the great detail involved in her collages.
“It took a long time to get to a place where I could be happy with the abstract work, and many times I wanted to give up on it,” Hoeckel said. “Now I feel like I am conquering a mental block. But it still takes a lot of work for me.”
Regardless of the medium, Hoeckel’s artistic vulnerability is truly captivating. She’s brave enough to tell us that she does not hold all the answers to her work. She strives to mature and evolve, admitting that the growth process takes work and persistence — it doesn’t just happen naturally. What’s most captivating is that Hoeckel confesses she’s an artist, and she can’t be anything else.