Thursday, February 5, 2015

Spotlight on Contemporary Artist/Photographer Hanna Newman

I encountered the art and mind of Hanna Newman last summer at her show here in Duluth at the Photography Institute. For a photography exhibition the work was unusual but engaging. After interviewing he this past week I discovered that the surreal nature of her work was more deliberate than I realized. She's young, but quite serious about her art. It will be interesting to see what kind of work she'll be producing five years from now.

EN: You grew up in Rochester and went to college in Mankato. What’s your connection to Duluth?

Hanna Newman: I have visited Duluth, often in the past. My father grew up not too far from Duluth which gave my family reason to visit when I was a young child. Later on as we got older, my brother attended college at UMD up until 2012. While he was a student here in Duluth my family and I would travel here to visit him often. More recently, my parents moved from Rochester to Cloquet just a couple of years ago. Since they have lived here I have been exploring the art scene in Duluth during my visits. Since then I have been fortunate to show at the Duluth Photography Institute and recently at the Prove Collective Gallery.

EN: How did you come to take up photography as a fine artist?

HN: Starting out as a ceramicist, I actually wasn't interested in taking up photography when I first began my undergrad. My second year at MSU I decided to take a black and white film photography course and I immediately fell in love with it. I now continuously take photographs and have recently begun to use my film photographs as a base for photo-intaglio prints.

EN: You mentioned how in our contemporary art scene anything is possible? This can be liberating, but also places a certain responsibility on the artist if he or she is to be taken seriously. Can you elaborate on this?

HN: Yes, I can. As you and I were discussing ways to describe contemporary art I had gone on to talk about how the contemporary art scene is a beautiful time to be an artist. All forms and styles of creating art are accepted, whether you are painting, printmaking, assembling every day objects or even making work from garbage (as done successfully by artist Vik Muniz, check out his large garbage portraiture!). I feel that it is a great time to be an artist due to the multiple materials at our disposable. But with this great freedom of materials and styles comes (in my opinion) the necessity to be able to talk about your work. Because art can be just about anything in the contemporary world we as artists need to be able to communicate the meanings behind our works to our audience.

EN: In what way does your work play with how the mind perceives and distorts reality?

HN: I take a lot of interest to the subconscious mind and try to approach that in my artwork. When producing work I try to avoid conscious intention and allow my subconscious to leak into my artwork. Our subconscious makes itself apparent in our dreams and nightmares and I believe it makes an appearance in my artwork as well. This automatized approach (often used by surrealist artists of the 1920s) allows for aspects of my mind that I may have not taken conscious awareness of to become more evident. I am inspired by how the mind makes involuntary alterations to reality whether it be mentally or visually. I try to explore this in my artwork through dreamlike settings, dis figuration and more recently through text alongside my artwork.

EN: Who have been some of your biggest influences as an artist?

HN: I have been very inspired by Dada and artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. I have also drawn a lot of inspiration from the paintings of Egon Schiele and the photography of Francesca Woodman. In regards to more contemporary artists, I am inspired by the dark photography of artist Roger Ballen and I am greatly inspired by the recent works of Mathew Barney (Cremaster Cycle). I could go on for days about all of the artists that have influenced me, I am constantly studying contemporary art and discovering new artists that inspire me.

EN: You’re heading to Australia in a couple weeks. What will you be doing there and what prompted you to pursue this next adventure?

HN: I will be continuing my artistic practices in Adelaide, Australia for a sixth month period and then I will be returning to finish the last year of my undergraduate degree at MSU. While in Australia I plan to practice with performance and interactive art starting with a project I have been planning titled, "Know Your Worth." Details of this project will be included in one of my first blogs, soon to come within the next two weeks. Before my plans to go to Australia had been finalized, I was actually planning to study in Nagasaki, Japan. Unfortunately that program was cancelled so I began looking into other options. I met a student from Adelaide in my ceramics course and she recommended to me to look into attending the University of South Australia. She is also an art student and had great things to say about the art scene in Adelaide. I looked into it a little further and found that I really liked the looks of the art scene, the size of the city and the location on the map. At last minute I applied to the University of South Australia and got accepted. I am greatly looking forward to my studies overseas in Adelaide!

EN: Where can readers here see more of your work?

HN: Coming just within the next couple weeks I will release a link to a blog that will be included in my current website. Readers will be able to access my blog through my website hannanewman.net. In my blog I will be documenting my studies, experiences and adventures while overseas in Australia.

If one wishes to view my past and current artwork it is available through my website: hannanewman.net

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