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Duayne Hatchett Remembered in The Buffalo News

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Duayne Hatchett, a prolific sculptor, painter and University at Buffalo professor whose artwork reflected a constant drive to experiment and a profound curiosity about the world around him, died Monday in Buffalo General Hospital. He was 90.

By the time Mr. Hatchett arrived in Buffalo in 1968 to begin his 24-year tenure as the head of the University at Buffalo’s sculpture program, he already had developed a large and varied body of work ranging from prints influenced by the socially conscious work of Diego Rivera to sculptures fused together from found objects he salvaged from junk yards.

In Buffalo, Mr. Hatchett quickly became an integral part of the art community, showing in dozens of exhibitions and expanding his already-substantial repertoire to include abstract paintings created with homemade tools and elaborate art-making devices. He was the subject of a 2009 retrospective in the Burchfield Penney Art Center, which covered 60 years of his work.

“To me, art is an invention,” Mr. Hatchett told The Buffalo News in a 2009 interview about the exhibition. “I never was happy with it if I couldn’t invent the process. I didn’t plan it, it’s just that I always found a system that was different from anybody else’s.”

The systems Mr. Hatchett invented for his work included various custom-made trowels and miniature rakes with peculiarly spaced teeth and a massive homemade version of a harmonograph, a device used to create Spirograph-like drawings in complex, parabolic patterns.

Wilbur Duayne Hatchett was born in pre-Depression Shawnee, Okla., in 1925. After a stint in the Air Force during which he trained to be a fighter pilot, Mr. Hatchett studied art and design at the University of Oklahoma, according to an essay by his son David Hatchett posted on the Burchfield Penney website. He taught print-making at Oklahoma City University from 1950-54 and sculpture at Tulsa University from 1954-64 and the Ohio State University from 1964-67.

Mr. Hatchett’s work was the subject of dozens of solo and group exhibitions throughout his career, including several shows at the Royal S. Marks Gallery in New York City, a survey of American sculpture survey in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1967, the Whitney Museum of American Art’s annual exhibitions in 1966 and 1968 and a 1974 solo show in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. His work most recently was seen locally during a 2013 exhibition featuring work by his sons David and Dana Hatchett in Indigo Art.

“His contribution to the community extends not only in the many works of both public and private art he created, but in his many years as both professor and professional mentor to so many talented minds, not only locally but nationally as well,” Dana Hatchett said.

Mr. Hatchett’s wife of more than 50 years, Mary Ellen Jeffries, died in 2006. He is survived by his two sons and a daughter, Jeffri, along with three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at 8 p.m. Friday in Amigone Funeral Home’s Delaware Chapel, 1132 Delaware Ave.

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