Tom Huck has a personal philosophy. "If an idea pops in my head and it makes me laugh, but I think, 'Ooh, I shouldn't do that,' it's then I know I probably should make a print about it."
And that's basically how the St. Louis artist came up with his latest series of prints.
"It started out as a joke," Huck explains. "My friend Monte Beauchamp, editor of Blab! magazine, was pressing me to do a book. I couldn't come up with anything. We were on the phone, and it just came out of my mouth: 'How about the Hillbilly Kama Sutra?' And he was like, 'My God, that's great.' And I was like, 'Oh, man, where did that come from?'"
Two years later and Huck has just wrapped up fifteen linoleum cuts of grotesque rednecks fornicating and fondling each other in graveyards, carnival rides, under water, at KKK rallies and, well, just about everywhere.
"It's an ode to dirty living. No matter how high-class you think you are, you're going to do it," says Huck, who found inspiration for the series in Hans Holbein, a German artist whose medieval woodcuts, Dance of Death, carried a somewhat similar message. "No matter how snooty you are, or how hard you try, death is going to find you."
Huck, whose work is on permanent display at New York's Whitney Museum and Harvard's Fogg Museum, is also following another of his heroes – twentieth-century Mexican illustrator and satirist Jose Guadalupe Posada (famous for his Day of the Dead woodcuts) – by releasing the series first in the Riverfront Times.
"Posada would put these prints in the newspaper only for them to be thrown away," says Huck. "I've never done that before, and I'm not sure anyone has in St. Louis."
Fans of Huck may want to hold onto these pages, however. He is taking the exhibit on the road this month and has booked no St. Louis showings.