Hannah Newman Interview - The Hopper Prize

Hannah Newman

The artist discusses sculpture & sound as a way to embody or enact the written word, a practice that incorporates long periods of research, & the importance of always learning.

How did you get into making art?

I never considered the possibility of making art until I took an art history course in college. Learning about conceptual, Fluxus, and land artists opened me to the possibilities I never knew existed within the realm of art or otherwise. My first love as an artist was ceramics. I now work with smartphones, rocks, minerals, clay, sound, language and video.

What are you currently working on?

Right now I’m working on a few projects! I’m currently working on a sound walk project about rocks. I’m also writing a series of scores for dancers to enact geologic processes like erosion, tides, or glacial melt. Along with the scores, I am also producing a soundtrack that will accompany the dances.

Much of my practice is inspired by language and the play of words.

Hannah Newman

What inspired you to get started on this body of work?

Much of my practice is inspired by language and the play of words. I largely alternate between making sculpture and audio work inspired by the written word. Both sculpture and sound become a way for me to embody or enact the written word, a way for me to try to understand topics like my relationship with nature, climate change, or the internet through my body, through my voice, through my hands.

Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?

I do both at different times. I often have long periods of research, where I’m doing a lot of reading as well as collecting materials and doing experiments. After a few months or more of research, a certain set of ideas, research, and materials will often start to seem inseparable. Once this grouping of ideas and materials solidifies, I’ll go into a phase where I set aside all the research and information and just make!

What’s a typical day like in your studio?

Every day in the studio is different! Sometimes my studio practice means buying rocks and smartphones off ebay, other times it might mean seeing how a certain kind of paint or dye affects a sculptural material, going and buying vinyl samples, sketching out a new piece in Illustrator, or recording audio. I love working in an interdisciplinary manner to keep the work fresh. This means I’m always learning something new, making mistakes, and stumbling on new possibilities.

Who are your favorite artists?

I don’t know if I have favorite artists. I think I’m more drawn to individual projects by certain artists. The best show I saw last year was Lavendar House by Sara Rara. I went to the show three times because I couldn’t stop thinking about the work!

Beyond looking at the work of other artists, I do tons of reading to fuel my practice. I’m always interested to see what Timothy Morton and Eric Chevillard are writing!

Where do you go to discover new artists?

There are so many fantastic artists making wonderful work. The internet is such a gift to see how rich local art scenes are beyond traditional centers like LA, New York or Berlin. I think it’s so important to be involved in supporting and fostering your local and regional art communities, so I spend a lot of time at local galleries and events to meet and discover new artists.

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