HANNAH BAKKEN

ch89_soilcontinuity-13_intaglio_29x41CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

HB: My artwork uses simplified and often abstracted forms that are interpreted through individual memory, experience, and perspective. My newest projects incorporate time and are somewhat ephemeral from the processes I utilize. I like to think that my work provides a contemplative experience that allows the viewer to read from it what they wish — my art is open, yet personal.

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

HB: My inspiration comes from looking at what artists close to my physical location are doing. There are a lot of Oregon/Pacific Northwest artists who are creating compelling work while also developing artist residency programs or spaces that drive my career aspirations and artwork. In addition, a lot of my drive to create prints and experiment with the medium of printmaking comes from following a number of printmakers on Instagram. To watch a short video of someone pulling their print and to see it for the first time, somewhat like they did, is incredibly exciting and always refreshing to me!

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?

occupation_slideroomHB: My work has been very varied as of late, ranging from more representational landscape images, to text-based work, to more process-driven and ephemeral projects such as my Soil Continuity series. My creative process is very much driven by my introspective reflections on my personal experiences with public land and what constitutes and influences my personal identity as a native Oregonian. However, a common thread between all of my work is a strong element of experimentation and just trying things out! Coming from studying biology for 3-4 years, those inquisitive experimental tendencies come forth through my thought and work processes.

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

HB: I want viewers to come away with contemplation about space, place, and identity and how that may or may not apply to their individual selves. My work is personal and explores inquiries about society that I find curious and worth discussing (public land use, mass shootings, species endangerment, sense of home, etc.) however, I try to present these topics in a subtle way to allow for individual reads and interaction. I hope that people can look at my work and feel stimulated by thought and not just look at the work as objects meant only to appreciate aesthetically.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

HB: My lifestyle as an artist is so very productive — I feel that I wear many hats in the visual arts and that is so exciting to me! I am currently studying at Southern Oregon University and have been, for two years the Gallery Director for the 6 galleries on campus, along with managing the printmaking studio, helping produce the Oregon Fringe Festival, and other various tasks that come my way. As director, I find so much joy in interacting with a variety of artists and helping them visualize and complete their exhibitions. As an artist, it is important for my work, for me to be outside in the forests, on the trails, and exploring public land. My interactions with land and recreation create the seeds of what my art projects develop into. But, when I am not working on the galleries or my artwork I enjoy my much needed downtime with my partner Muuqi, two cats (Ed and Al), and being absorbed into a good book, movie, or video game.

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

screen-shot-20170112-at-105102-pmHB: For my personal artistic practice — and as a printmaker working in mainly intaglio processes — being an intuitive artist isn’t quite my style. I find joy in being more designed or planned-out with my works as that is just part of my personality to be organized and precise, but it also lends well to printmaking processes as I often have to plan out my image backwards and forwards to have it come out successfully. My Soil Continuity series is more of a chance-based intuitive project though, so while I take joy in the designed I am finding enjoyment in learning to be more open to intuitive creation!

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

HB: The most important lesson I have learned as an artist, only really considering myself to be one since 2015, is that you MUST OWN THE FACT THAT YOU ARE AN ARTIST. Do not wait around for someone to come up to you and say “Hey, I like what you are doing therefore you are NOW an artist” as this will only cause anxiety. When I started to find the confidence to introduce myself as an artist, everything began to happen and my work began to take traction in ways that I am so excited about. Make the mess, claim the title of artist, share your ideas and the rest falls into place with hard work.

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

HB: Don’t get me wrong, I feel that style and taste are great things to consider important in life, but I feel that to say it is of the “highest importance” just doesn’t fall quite in line with my lifestyle. I feel living a life that includes many different perspectives and individuals with varying tastes and styles is the most important thing. The friends that I have all work differently and appreciate different things that then contribute to who I am as a person — now that seems important to have.

img_7343CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

HB: For myself, I feel the hardest thing about being an artist in the contemporary world is the fact that I am constantly trying to answer what is my —or in general the artist’s — role in society? With the political climate and art’s ability to bring forth new ways of thinking through unorthodox, surprising, or controversial pathways, I want to find my voice and share it to potentially influence others, just as other artists and individuals influence me.

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

HB: Simply put, anything can be seen as an opportunity to create art and I love that. I see an interesting stick on a trail — that could be art. I hear an interesting conversation — that could lead to a new project. I realize something about myself and who I am — that could be an element to bring forth into a current work. Art is endless.

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

HB: I am very inspired by Oregon-based artists such as Malia Jensen (Portland), Julia Oldham (Eugene), Ryan Pierce (Portland) — artists who work interdisciplinary and often incorporate an element of humor or fantasy into their works. While I could list many more Oregon artists that really inform how I think about my work or art in general — I just love being inspired by and connecting with work that is being made close to me as I love Oregon and love seeing what makes up its evolving art scene.

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

HB: Artists have been connected with science and technology going back to the Paleolithic period, such as cave paintings that can be seen both as art as well as the beginning of scientific observation. Artists are able to provide creative and innovative perspectives that may not have been acknowledged before on the implications a new invention or discovery may bring on a culture or social scale. In terms of contemporary society, we live in a technologically saturated world where I find it incredibly important and compelling for artists to use both technology and research to create social commentary and/or influence how they work. I see a reciprocal relationship between artist and science/technology — both can provide so many valuable perspectives to each other to promote progress for both realms of inquiry.

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

HB: Like I mentioned before, artists often have creative and innovative perspectives to bring to society. I definitely think that being an artist means that I have a unique perspective or at least the capacity to look at the world or take up possibly devalued areas of inquiry that celebrate curiosity and wonder for what it means to be human and what it means to be aware of how the world works. Coming from a science background, I most certainly don’t devalue the perspectives of individuals deemed “not-creative”, as I feel to work in any field; be it business, science, psychology, social research, law, etc., you must bring forth creative thinking. I think where artists are different is they are often more excited and/or willing to take up those unorthodox or contentious lines of inquiry to include in their work, and they have maybe more freedom to do so…because it’s for ART!

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

HB: Traveling has always been a pastime I have loved and I have been blessed by family and friends to help make all of my travel happen in my life. I can’t say that I have a favorite city, but have really come to love seeing a variety of podunk towns in Oregon and surrounding states the past couple of years and enjoy finding my favorite things about each one. I think what my favorite is though is seeing the spaces and places in-between cities; there is always so much to see and learn there.

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

HB: For a few years now my favorite book has been The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin. The way she writes is so phenomenal and descriptive and how she covers topics of gender, masculinity, race, war, and class is so compelling. I learn something new every time I read it.

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

HB: Right now, I am going through the application and interview process for admission to MFA programs across the country in order to explore the possibility of pushing my artwork forward in a challenging academic environment. Regardless of what happens on that end, I want to keep experimenting with intaglio processes as well as get back into monotype printmaking by continuing to work on my trout series (which will most likely be influence by getting out and fly-fishing again…which I might be most excited about) in addition to collaborative ventures with my partner. Also, opening in Ashland, OR at the university on April 7th is my BFA Thesis Exhibition, Soil Continuity, which I am ecstatic to see come to fruition!

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

HB: To be an artist means to investigate honestly. It means to create for the sake of creating or for the sake of creating change. Being an artist means you are constantly learning about yourself and consistently showing vulnerability by sharing your work. To be an artist is to be curious, to be inquisitive, and to be open.

CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to?

HB: Cymbeline (LIVE) by Loreena McKennit. All of her work is outstanding and her voice always makes me feel a strong sense of female empowerment.

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?

HB: My work is playful, experimental, thoughtful, and gosh…fun!

CHECK OUT MORE ON: HANNAH BAKKEN

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