MCC Alum Returns for First On-Campus Art Exhibit Since Student Show in 1969
A feeling of nostalgia on a recent visit to town led John Havlik to stop by a place where he once spent a lot of time—the Art and Design Department at MCC.
Havlik, an illustrator, graphic designer, and retired college professor, was part of the first graduating class at MCC in 1970.
As he walked the halls of the College, Havlik had the chance to chat and reminisce with a variety of MCC faculty and staff. One of the people he met was Trevor Power, MCC’s art gallery curator, who asked to see some of his work.
The conversation led to the creation of an exhibit for Havlik, Drawingcraft, that will be on display in MCC’s Epping Gallery, located in Building B outside the MCC Store, from November 13 – December 22, 2023.
The last time Havlik showed his work on campus was in the student show in 1969.
“Exhibiting my work at MCC is very gratifying,” he said. “When I was in grade school in Johnsburg, I knew I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. This exhibit shows I did just that. I started on that path at MCC.”
The exhibit showcases a variety of Giclee prints focusing on landscapes and nature scenes.
“These prints represent several of my deepest interests: the craft of drawing, literature, and the beauty of Southern Illinois,” he said. “Fundamentally, I agree with Henri Matisse that art can be ‘a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair.’ Like that chair and the samplers of the past, these prints are meant to be a comfort and inspiration for everyday life.”
After graduating from MCC, Havlik attended Western Illinois University but was drafted into the US Army during his senior year. When he returned, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.
“At MCC I began my liberal arts education, which not only impacted my career but also my life,” he said. “It was there that I began to develop the critical thinking skills that are essential for a creative professional.”
Over the course of his career, Havlik worked as an illustrator and graphic designer both as a freelancer and for various ad agencies in St. Louis and Champaign-Urbana. In 1988, he became the Senior Designer at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois. From 1998 until his retirement in 2010, he was also an adjunct instructor at Parkland College. He now lives in Southern Illinois on 33 acres that he manages as native habitat, and continues to show and sell his designs locally.
“What I enjoyed most about my career was working through the creative process with incredibly talented colleagues,” he said. “My students at Parkland College were a constant inspiration for my own work.”
Based on his experience creating and teaching over the years, his advice to current or future art students is simple:
“Learn to hold two opposing thoughts in your head at once; aesthetic rules are meant to be broken, not ignored.”