About my Experience:
To put it simply, doing a portrait of Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo was one of the most challenging drawings I’ve ever worked on.
Much of my work focuses on difficult subject matter, but it’s never felt this personal before. Luis was so young and as I researched his life it was hard not to be transported back to my own experience of being 20 years old. It’s a time where we figure ourselves out, transitioning from childhood to adulthood. Luis seemed to be right in the middle of that experience, and I had to wonder what the world would have held for him had he been given the opportunity to explore it.
I was very emotional as I worked on the piece, experiencing anger at the event specifically, and a great sadness for Luis and his family. I felt this kind of internal pressure to do he and his family justice.
But in the end that’s really not possible. No piece of art can adequately express the potential beauty of the souls that were tragically lost on that day. I only hope that it’s enough that I truly care about what happened to Luis, and that even though I never had the pleasure of meeting this young man, he will be a part of my life forever.
Rob Hessler was born in Point Pleasant, New Jersey and grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. In 2001, after first spending several years studying archaeology, he received his degree in Studio Art at George Mason University. Following graduation, he spent over seven years in Los Angeles, California and he currently lives and works in Savannah, Georgia.
Hessler has exhibited his drawings in several solo and group shows at galleries throughout the country. Recent solo exhibitions include The Other Side of the World, Part 2 at Lois Lambert Gallery in Los Angeles in 2014 and The Other Side of the World, Part 3 at Speakeasy Art Gallery in Boonton, New Jersey in 2015, as well as The Book of Demons and Angels at The Butcher Gallery, also in 2015.
As for group shows, he’s recently participated in AJ Dillon Gallery’s Stars & Stripes Forever show in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey and in Los Angeles as a part of The Hive Gallery’s Line Attack 2 exhibition as well in Lois Lambert Gallery’s Itty Bitty Art show. He’s also one of 49 artists selected to participate in Mia Merlin’s 49 Portraits Project to honor the victims of the recent Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.
Additionally, he shows his work consistently at Carroll & Sons Gallery in Boston as part of the Boston Drawing Project, including the complete works from his recent sub-series The Other Side of the Worlds Collide and his forthcoming Vegas series.
The 2017-2018 season will see Rob in two more solo exhibitions: An as-yet untitled foray in The Other Side of the World at Speakeasy Art Gallery; and a retrospective of his early career work at Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia.
In recent years his works have been featured in the Paris-based art journal “Insiztance,” on the front page of the Sunday edition of Savannah Morning News “Arts and Leisure” section, in the metro section of the Sunday New York Times, and NBC 3 Savannah’s “The Southern Scene” television program.