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Interview: Hannah Einhorn

Updated: Mar 19, 2023


Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?


I’m originally from a small-ish town in north Alabama called Madison. I grew up with a yard full of bunnies and turtles and trees; one of my favorite things to do was collect things, like snails, rocks, flowers, or wild strawberries. I also grew up about 15 minutes away from the Space and Rocket Center and a NASA headquarters location, so of course, I did attend Space Camp twice. I started painting and drawing with my mom as a small child. She would set up a bunch of supplies on our kitchen table (which is now in my own home studio) and my siblings and I would color for hours with her. In high school, I took an art class every single semester. I think I owe my continued dedication to my craft to my art teacher at the time. She really made it her mission to find some form of art each of her students could resonate with and be fulfilled by. I decided to pursue an art degree and entered Belmont University to earn a BFA in studio art in 2019. It’s been a roller coaster with COVID-19 and all the changes we’re experiencing as a human race, but I’ve met some of my best friends and mentors here in Nashville.


Can you tell us about the process of creating your work? What is your artistic routine

when working?


My routine is very intuitive and cyclical. I have learned not to force anything before it’s

ready to be made. I go through periods of frenetic art making and then will often lapse into a dry spell. During those dry spells, I try to consume as much art as I can in the forms of literature, visual art, and film and tv. As a child, I was really into reading. I still love it, but sometimes I struggle to make myself sit and read because of how my grade school teachers handled mandatory reading assignments. So now, my reading routine is getting some sort of perfumed bubble bath/bath salts mixture and filling the tub and lounging with my book until I’m ready to shower off. As a child, I read mostly fictional novels or really interesting memoirs, and now I try to switch between nonfiction art/social theory books and fictional stories. I’ve also gotten back into my love of audiobooks recently.


Interestingly enough, I’ve found that socializing is a large part of my practice. I tend to be introverted and can become reclusive if not intentional about making time for my loved ones, but the people I surround myself with are hugely supportive and help fuel my creative drive and inspiration. My friends fill their apartments with art and books and cats that constantly draw me in, making their spaces just as fulfilling as my own.


My approach to the actual art making has a lot to do with collections of colors, shapes,

and materials I gather. I often buy specific paint colors or unique materials without having a

predetermined plan for them, and sometimes, they sit in my supplies storage for months or even years before I pull them out and start to experiment with different combinations of things. Because of this, my supplies collection is full of odd, seemingly useless things such as googley eyes and string. I like to make tiny, weird drawings or paintings either on small rectangles of paper or in sketchbooks before I move to larger pieces. Recently, I’ve been choosing to display these small sketches alongside the more finished works.


What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?


I had the opportunity to travel to London for a month and I was able to see so much

contemporary art. It’s hard to pick my favorites! I think I was especially impacted by an

installation in the Tate Britain by Hew Locke called The Procession. The work consists of

several figures resembling humans and horses set up in a way that suggests a marching

celebratory procession. Locke comments on British/white supremacist imperialism by utilizing textiles and symbols of the cultures that have been encroached upon by the British empire. I was also absolutely blown away by In the Black Fantastic at the Hayward Gallery in London. With artists such as Wangechi Mutu, Tabita Rezaire, and Chris Ofili, it may be the best curated exhibit I personally have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.


Locally, I’ve been really inspired by Amelia Briggs’s art. Her incorporation of sculptural

elements 2-dimensional work is something I have been attempting to pull from in my own

practice. I love when artists reimagine the traditional rectangle canvas form and break the

boundaries of that shape. Also, her color sensibility is unmatched!


What inspires you?


The first thing I was drawn to when I started focusing on my work more professionally

was sensory experience. For me, the most basic interest in creating colors and textures is at the center of my work. As a young adult, I slowly began pulling from my own identity markers for inspiration and making art helped me work through the changes I’ve experienced. I’m heavily interested in intersectional feminist theory as well as antiracist and anticapitalist theory, and this is the type of literature and academic subject matter I tend to gravitate toward. One book I read that changed my life is called Neuroqueer Heresies by queer/trans/autistic scholar Nick Walker. In this collection of essays, she outlines the intersections of queerness and neurodivergence. In the last three years, I myself was diagnosed with autism and discovered I was queer. This book helped me learn a lot about those identities and also begin mining my childhood for memories that support these findings about myself.


In popular media, I’m really into older campy movies. For example, Clue and Rocky

Horror Picture Show are two of my favorite films of all time. The absurdity of the plots both

amuses and inspires me. I’m also interested in the aesthetics of a lot of the dark yet colorful

alternative pop queens that are currently in the spotlight, such as FKA Twigs and Spellling. True crime podcasts have really captured my psyche, and my love of psychology and the study of the brain has been fueled so heavily by my Spotify suggested podcast listens.


In high school, I gravitated towards the study of organizational psychology and briefly

studied psychology as a student at Belmont. Spacial influence on wellbeing has always been a topic that endlessly fascinates me. In high school, I read House of Leaves by Mike Z.

Danielewski and skimmed The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard, which fueled my interest in creating spaces that reflect who I am. I think a huge part of my practice is curating my home, paying attention to what colors, fabrics, layouts, animals, and people bring me joy and comfort. I’m such a homebody, so having a comfortable home is really important for my mental health.



How does your queerness interact with your art?


My queerness is something I’ve struggled to define in my young adulthood, especially

after coming from a childhood where queerness wasn’t something I was really exposed to or

even considered much. I’m having to catch up on a lot. I think this is reflected in my work, as a

lot of my imagery choices have sort of this growing, shifting, changing feeling about them.

Something I’m exploring is this thought I have that being autistic is the queerest thing about me, in the sense that even if I were cis-het, the way I communicate, experience, and define love and companionship is ultimately on a different plane from allistic people. Because of this, I think a person’s neurotype is a bigger indication of compatibility for my love interests than gender or sexuality, and each identity element impacts my attraction type in different ways. I think I’m often clocked as neurodivergent before I’m clocked as queer. In my recent work, I’ve started experimenting with asymmetrical canvases to sort of represent this “clocking” that I experience. The first canvas I did like this was so subtly asymmetrical that I had many people ask me if I simply made the canvas wrong. The piece was titled “Can’t Quite Tell What’s Off About You,” and I think this is the perfect title to get across exactly what I meant by this slightly-off but still functional and interesting and valuable canvas.


What would you like the future of the queer art community to look like?


I’m so excited to see queerness as a political identity being explored more and more in

the artistic sphere. There is a quote from bell hooks that expands the definition of queer: “Queer not as being about who you are having sex with, that can be a dimension of it, but queer that is bout the self that is at odds with everything around it and has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live.” I always come back to this principle in my life. As a queer person in the sexual and gender-specific sense, I am also queer in the neurodivergent sense. By assuming the label of “queer” and not just “gay” or “lesbian” or “nonbinary,” I have a duty to others who have identities that queer their ways of living and being, whether that be in ways similar to my own or in different ways. It’s important for those of us who have queered ways of being to stand in solidarity against all oppressive legislature, practices, and social stigmas. Education, expression, and change through art is one way of doing this, especially since artists are often trendsetters.



What is one of your goals as an artist?


One of my long-time goals, though small, is to one day publish a book that’s kind of like

a little sketchbook! It would include things like drawings, collages, and poems. I want it to feel a little less professional, more personal, like a look into my process. I love when artists include

rough sketches or some sort of relic from their brainstorming period with their finished work in

their exhibitions. Sometimes, I find that it feels more authentic and really adds to the overall impact of a show, similar to the way an artist statement does. I want to read an artist’s notes,

journal entries, see their messy bored sketches and color swatches. Intimacy in art can be lacking in some gallery spaces, and I think this is a great way to reintroduce it. I also think something like a published sketchbook can make art more accessible for people who can’t afford an original piece from an artist.


Is there anything in the pipeline you would like to talk about?


Something I’ve been thinking about as I’ve gotten more into ceramics is the art world’s

insistence on having divisions between fine art, craft, and design. Of course, I can recognize

certain characteristic differences in each of these categories, but I’ve also found that there tends to be this stigma in fine art that anything that seemingly relies too much on aesthetics or function loses some of its “high end” cred. Fine art is often deemed as the height of art, design, and craft.As a student, I myself have faced critiques where my work has derogatorily been called “just decorative.” To me, this comment shows that this person was refusing to assign my work a certain level of value based on aesthetic choices I made, when in reality, calling something “decorative” shouldn’t be such an insult, in my opinion.


I think my strong opinion on this topic comes from my research in environmental psychology as well as class issues and art. The ability to buy and keep well-made items and art is usually limited by socioeconomic ability, which creates an interesting self-destructive vortex within the community that makes the art. Some fine artists are paranoid about being considered elitist because of their reliance on wealthy clients. Therefore, they try to prioritize making conceptually competitive work within a certain aesthetic that, to them, is above class divides. In my opinion, this leads to increased criticization of artists who make functional objects or

“decorative” art, regardless of content, because these fine artists view it as pandering to the class system. In reality, the buyer is still controlling the fine artist’s view of their own work.

Consequentially, those who make art because they have to and love to are demoted to the same respect level as artists who really are playing the system. I think that if these lines in the sand between types of art hadn’t been drawn so harshly, we would look at more functional or

decorative art pieces with the reverence and assumption of importance we give to fine art. We might all curate more beautiful and intentional lives for ourselves by seeing the value in well- crafted objects. Because of this, all types of art may become more widely approachable and enjoyable.

Follow them: @hannah.elizabeth.einhorn


https://www.hannaheinhorn.com/

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