By Ian Perrotta
Who is he?
Aaron Kochut, 19, grew up on the southend of Hamtramck on Wyandotte St., and has lived here his whole life. This artistic Polish-and-Ukrainian-American loves listening to music and right now is enrolled at Macomb Community College, majoring in Advertisement Design. One of Hamtramck’s youngest movers and shakers, Kochut is currently putting the finishing touches on his second mural at Dickinson East. Recently, Aaron took a moment to tell us a little more about who he is and what he does.
That’s a pretty impressive mural you painted. How long will it take you to complete?
“Well, starting the mural I thought it would be a simple project I could complete in about 13 to 15 hours, but as time went by I started realizing each character was taking me about one-and-a-half to two hours to do, and I can only get in there maybe once a week – if that— because of my busy schedule with work and school. I would say this mural, all together finished, will take me about 25 hours, and I have already put about 22 into it.”
Wow, that seems like quite a process. How long have you been painting?
“It really all started back in high school. I was always about sports and video games up until 10th grade, when I painted my first picture on a canvas. It came out looking really bad, yet I saw a different picture in my head of how it should look. So I worked on just painting pictures of people and really getting into the facial features and learning different techniques on how to paint faces. As I went on and continued to study other artists I was able to see in detail and to see what’s really there – not what you think is there.”
What inspires you to create?
“The things that inspire me the most are the problems which I am going through at the time. You can basically tell whether I am happy, sad, lost, or confused by looking at the theme of the painting. A painting is just like a poem but in picture form – you can tell what mood the artist is in through what the artist puts down or says.”
So how did you get tapped to paint the mural at Dickinson East? And what exactly is the theme of the piece?
“I was asked to come back and do a second mural at Dickinson East by the principal, Mr. Nayal Maktari. The first mural I painted was last year’s multicultural mural, and this year’s mural is based on black history. I painted 15 famous African Americans that have made an impact on our nation, and some in which continue to do so.”
It must be pretty rewarding to create something like that. What role do you think art has in today’s society?
“I think art plays a big role in everyone’s life in one way or another, whether it’s an advertisement, a painting, a photograph, or a song. It has an ability to change a person’s life. It can do things like create peace, fix a broken heart, and – the main point – it helps people let out their frustrations and problems on something other than a human. So it is basically a kind of therapy for people.”
Interesting. Do you create in any other medium?
“My main point of focus is painting. I usually use acrylics, but I can also paint with oils as well. I am very interested in photography at the moment, and although I can’t afford a fancy Nikon or Canon I still like to run around getting photos of different things. I also write an occasional poem to express how I feel at the time. I try to do as much as possible to broaden my horizons and not focus on one thing.”
There certainly are a lot of artistic opportunities in Hamtramck. What do you like best about living in the area?
“Living in Hamtramck has been great. I have been able to see and experience things some people never get to experience. Of course it has its downsides, but every city does – nothing and no one is perfect. What I like best about Hamtramck is it’s so different from being anywhere else, there are many different cultures and for the most part everyone seems to get along well.”
What are your plans for after graduation? Will you stick around town or do you have your sights set somewhere else?
“After graduation I’m really not sure what I am going to do. I am thinking of moving out of state to Chicago, or possibly joining the military. I am not 100 percent certain of what I am going to do. Right now I am just grabbing whatever opportunities move my way. And trying my hardest to stay on track with life.”
Any parting words?
“My life has had its ups and downs, and art along with other people has helped me through a lot. I would like to thank my family, my friends, my former art teacher Mrs. Veronica Lassen, and the girls that have been in my life for making my ability what it is, and for keeping me on track with my art, and my life.”
Do you know one of Hamtramck’s movers and shakers? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call u s at (313) 874-2100.