Linda Stricklin grew up on a farm in Jones County on land that her great-grandfather owned and is still being farmed by her brother today. She finds influences for her art in the pastures and cotton fields she played in as a child, as well as the flora and fauna. A main staple of the pastures Stricklin grew up in are jackrabbits.
The jackrabbit is the primary subject of Stricklin’s current work and will be on view at the Center for Contemporary Arts in mid-May. Her solo exhibition, Jackrabbit Journey, features more than two dozen sculptures and a dozen or so two-dimensional works that center around the jackrabbit, or the hare, as the subject.
In Irish folklore, the hare was a sacred and mystical animal to the Celts – a symbol of abundance, prosperity, and good fortune. Shapeshifters would often take the form of a hare. In Stricklin’s work, the creatures are created out of clay, with mixed-media components, including copper enamel. The process Stricklin uses shows the texture of their fur, movement, and muscle tone.
She says each piece has its own personality and story and is interconnected in some way or another. For instance, one piece, titled “Billy Jack,” is inspired by a true story told to her by a friend’s grandson. The child told a story about how he used to hunt jackrabbits on his family’s ranch. He shot a jackrabbit in the ear, but didn’t kill it, and every year, the animal would return with the hole in its ear and taunt him. Jackrabbits can be a menace to farmers and ranchers, so for population control and to protect crops, they are often hunted.
Stricklin is a graduate of McMurry University and holds an MFA in ceramics and metalsmithing from Texas Woman’s University. She taught at McMurry for 13 years prior to becoming the owner of Abilene Frame N Art Galleries in 2003. She retired in 2022. Since retiring, she has been a prolific artist, making her jackrabbit/hare pieces and winning awards for them in the Center’s most recent CCAN exhibition and the Stars of Texas juried competition in Brownwood. She currently has a studio at 1117 Studios & Gallery and at her home in south Abilene.
Jackrabbit Journey will be on view in Gallery 4 at the Center for Contemporary Arts from May 18 through July 8. A reception will be held on Friday, May 19 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Contributed By The Center for Contemporary Arts