Wynn retired from teaching in 2001, but he doesn't want
to retire from life. He has a house full of books and unusual items
gathered over many years. He joins clubs and organizations of all kinds,
mostly scientific. He is a member of the Chicago Area Conservation Group -
an organization dedicated to art conservation. He is president of the
State Microscopical Society of Illinois (SMSI). SMSI was founded in 1869
and is the second oldest microscopical society in the world. The only one
older is the Royal Microscopical Society of England (RMS), but it only
predates SMSI by four years.
He is a long time member of the "Wild
Ones", a nature society that grows and exhibits native wild plants.
He belongs to INPS, the Illinois Native Plant Society.
This sounds like an extremely busy life, but Wynn
Every spring finds him a little depressed and
lonely. Somehow the world doesn't look quite right. A few pounds gained
over the winter only makes things worse, he said.
"It's not me", Wynn said looking at photos
we shot for this article. "Or maybe you're being too honest. Anyway,
let's re do them!"
Our culture admires the young and beautiful. But
everything and everybody ages and we don't talk enough about the good side
of it. Time brings not only wrinkles and gray hair, but also invaluable
experience and the possibility of becoming wiser. Wynn isn't always sure.
|He often remembers the past with
his late wife and two daughters. He thinks often of his life in
teaching. He taught science in high schools for 30 years. For all
those years he was surrounded by people. A teacher is by definition
the center of attention in the room. Being in a crowd all the time
became his second nature. While retirement has its advantages, it
doesn't suite him.
A teacher is a source of information and Wynn
certainly is that. Just ask him and he'll tell you where to buy a
good book, specialty baked goods, or unusual jewelry. He'll give you
directions to dozens of places in Chicago where you can find a good
concert or lecture. He will even send you the schedules of all kinds
of events. Listen to him, you get the sense that he is everywhere.
"I always study something. I read a
lot", Wynn says, pointing to a big pile of books on his living
Maybe that's why he can so answer many
questions about almost anything scientific. Ask him about an animal,
bug or plants and you'll get not only the name of the particular
creature in English but often in Latin too. If he will doesn't know
he isn't satisfied until he finds out. He may even e-mail you the
answer A few days later. He will search for it on Internet, drive to
the library or even call an expert on the subject.
WYNN ENJOYS feeding deer in his backyard.
-photo by Regina Nuttall
Often the answer can be found in his own
Last year he found a strange and beautiful insect
perched on his front door. He was curious and cautiously moved it into his
living room. It settled on one of his jungle of plants and sat there while
Wynn looked through his reference books. Finally he found it.
It was a Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus) and has a
poisonous sting. He decided that it really shouldn't be in the house, but
when he looked for it, it was gone. It took him the whole next week to
Moments like this makes him smile and remember his
PICTURED IS a small portion of Wynn's extensive bug collection.
-photo by Regina Nuttall
GOVERNOR DODGE STATE PARK in Dodgeville, Wis., copper metal
transfer on Japanese art paper, by Wynn Hopkins
Wynn was born to a mother who was not prepared to
raise him. At 14 months old he was adopted by Lloyd and Loretta Hopkins.
They were unable to have children of their own, but very much wanted to be
parents. Wynn always knew that the couple who raised him were not his
biological mom and dad but to this day can only think of them as his real
After many years, he located his biological parents,
but he always thinks of his adoptive parents as Mom and Dad. He thinks of
them with capitals M and D. "They were the best parents you can
imagine", he says. "They supported me in all ways and I am who I
am thanks to them."
Wynn doesn't like to think about what might have
happened if he had been raised by his biological parents.
"I have 5 half sisters and 2 half brothers and
I am only one with a college degree. I think they didn't grow up in a
loving environment like I did. My adoptive parents gave college educations
not only to me but to my sister. They adopted her too. They loved each
other and us very much."
Wynn was a gifted student. At ten he started to form
an interest in chemical engineering and created his own lab in the house.
A few years later began be deeply interested in chemistry. By the age of
fifteen, he knew he was going to study chemistry and physics. He has
masters degrees in both chemistry and physics as well as a teaching degree
from Illinois State University.
Wynn loved teaching. He still feels a connection
with young people and even tutors for free if somebody needs help in
physics or chemistry. One student from Crete- Monee high school told me
that after few evenings with Wynn she began understand the material much
Wynn came to the south suburbs to teach high school science in the fall
of 1967. In July of the next year he married Joan Alongi and they moved to
In December of 1969 his first daughter, Julie was
born and in the fall of 1971 he joined the staff of Crete-Monee High
School, where he would teach for the next 30 years.
In August of 1977 his daughter, Alison was born. He
worked hard because he felt responsible for those students that were
heading off to college and would be to be taking courses in chemistry or
physics. He always wanted to make sure they were as prepared as possible
for the rigors of college science. Through the years a number of former
students have looked him up to thank him for his efforts. He has
positively touched the lives of many, many students and their families.
* * *
The family who raised him were passionate
His grandmother photographed, as did his Dad,
encouraging little Wynn.
Wynn began to love the camera and it became his
frequent companion. In the early 70's he started exhibiting his
photography at local fairs and also worked as the only photographer of the
New Community Enterprise, who developed University Park.
Wynn also worked as the store photographer for
Marshall Field & Company for their River Oaks and Park Forest stores.
As time passed, his photography progressed from
simple monochromatic photographic prints to color, dye transfer prints,
photo-silkscreen, Daguerreotypes and etching in copper plates. He also
made etchings from those plates.
He continued to expand and explore the etching
process and made etched-through foil. He made artwork from thick solid
copper plated onto a conductive mandrill.
Today his artistic is exploring the patination of
brass foil embossments and an entirely new process of photographically
transferring copper metal powders to Japanese art papers. The powders are
really interesting because they come in so many tints.
* * *
If you would like to meet Wynn Hopkins, view his art works, and chat
about science, he will be at the Griffith Art Fair July 19-20 in Griffith,
Ind. Last year he won the first place award in the graphics division
there. He will also be at an art fair September 20-21 in Park Forest
Plaza, Park Forest.
CALUMET RIVER in Chicago, copper metal transfer on Japanese art
paper, by Wynn Hopkins.
FOXTAIL, COPPER METAL transfer on blue Japanese paper, by Wynn
Related Links »
Microscopial Society of Illinois