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August 11, 2017

Hanna 'Wil' Wilcock finds self-expression in JCCC Art Department

Sitting in the classroom, Hanna 'Wil' Wilcock takes doodling to another level.  Through the creations, Wilcock shares more than pen, pencil or paint. Instead, it’s a way to transmit the soul. Wilcock has taken “tons” of fine arts classes, including Life Drawing I and II, Sculpture I and II, Digital Imaging for Artists… the list goes on. But Wilcock almost missed out on JCCC’s “fantastic instructors” because of their first choice for college. 

Big city, wrong direction

Wil always wanted to be an artist and prefers the “they” pronoun to he or she.

After graduating from small-town Sabetha, Kansas, population 2,500 or so, Wil wanted a more metropolitan experience. They headed west to a big-city, for-profit, fine-arts college. Three semesters later, they were miserable.

“I started looking for other options,” Wil said. “My parents said, ‘Why don’t you come back to Kansas and try Johnson County Community College?’ I wasn’t sure about a community college.”

It only took one semester for JCCC to impress Wilcock. “I learned more in my first semester here than I did in the other three semesters at my other school,” they said. “I fell in love with how the instructors taught and way we could create. Everyone was so supportive.”

Wilcock didn’t know they could have such a top-shelf experience at a community college. “It was really surprising that a community college could exceed what an art college taught me.”

JCCC fine arts ‘visceral self-expression’

Wilcock’s Facebook pages and Instagram account are filled with their artwork, mostly completed while at JCCC. Also on social media are photos of their friends, many of whom are fellow art students at JCCC.

“Art gets feelings out for those of us who maybe don’t express feelings very well. It’s the most walls-down way to get a real feel for someone,” they said.

Wilcock is finding a sense of self in art. In a recent self-portrait, they created an image that was not identifiable as 100 percent male or female. It was 100 percent Wil Wilcock, though.

“Art is a visceral form of self-expression, the ability to let yourself go and put yourself into whatever piece you make – whether it be a visual art, like a painting or a drawing, or a digital composition, or even a song or a performance,” Wilcock said. “I’ve always seen art as important.”

Unlocking an artist’s potential

Jacob Burmood, Associate Professor of Fine Arts, taught Wilcock in sculpture classes at JCCC. “Wil is very passionate about making art and approaches it with an open mind,” Burmood said. He added that Wil is “willing to take risks and make discoveries. Wil incorporates their personal interests into their work.”

Burmood, a working artist as well as an instructor, said students like Wilcock benefit from professors who are active in the local art scene.

“As a working artist, I'm able to bring my experience to students as an example of not just how to make art, but how to function in society as an artist,” he said. “The College offers a variety of classes that transfer to four-year universities at a lower cost, while still offering solid instruction from professionals working in their field.”

For more information about JCCC's Fine Arts and Photography program, contact Mark Cowardin, Professor and Chair, at 913-469-8500, ext. 3607.