This powerful collage, created a year before William L. Hawkins’s death, may be considered a summary of the artist’s life. To chronicle different periods in his life, Hawkins used printed photographs and illustrations in several collaged vignettes. Happy moments are recalled with images of a baby playing and of a young child walking with an adult, perhaps a parent. In a third scene, a beautiful young woman holds an artist’s palette and brushes; nearby, a handsome young man communicates with the woman, suggesting nostalgia or fantasy. In the right foreground is an oversize shadowy figure of an old man. A symbol of impending death, the figure is executed in black, his face in shadow. Hawkins reveals little of the dark side of life apart from the reproduction of an engraving or line drawing of a naval battle. This scene could be seen as a metaphor for specific turmoil in Hawkins’s life or recognition that conflict is a part of all life.
Lee Kogan, "Dust Bowl Collage," in Stacy C. Hollander, American Anthem: Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum (New York: Harry N. Abrams in association with American Folk Art Museum, 2001), 399.