Last week, the Chicago art community was stunned and saddened by the unexpected news that art critic, art historian, professor and curator, Kathryn Hixson had passed away on November 7th at her Evanston home.
The cause of her death is still not yet known, but it is believed to be due to natural causes. Ms. Hixson had battled cancer previously, but had overcome the disease. By all accounts, she had recently been in good health.
Ms. Hixson received her Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1985. Soon after she began working with the very important New Art Examiner (now shuttered), ascending from Associate Editor to Senior Editor and finally Editor. She also wrote for Flash Art, Arts Magazine, and others. Ms. Hixson had been in the process of finishing her PhD dissertion at the University of Texas at Austin.
Ms. Hixson had been a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) since 1988, and at the time of her death was an Adjunct Professor in the Art History, Criticism and Theory department, as well as an Adjunct Faculty member and Adviser in the Fiber and Material Studies department and New Arts Journalism department.
Until last week, I had been a current student of Professor Hixson's, I was taking her "Contemporary Criticism" class. She was always responsive to students and what they wanted out of a class; at some point I had mentioned that we'd never had a discussion of style in criticism. For what turned out to be our last class, Professor Hixson refocused the scheduled topic and printed up discussion questions for a conversation on style. Professor Hixson and I didn't always agree, but that made it interesting, our debates were always cordial and always productive. As a professor, she challenged you to reason out why you felt the way you did, to stick by your commitments, and to work to your utmost ability, not settling for anything less.
I had looked forward to arguing with Ms. Hixson for many more years-- you're already missed.
-Abraham Ritchie, Senior Editor for ArtSlant: Chicago