Art Spotlight: Hanna Vogel

Art Spotlight: Hanna Vogel

Was, Might Be

See Hanna Vogel’s work in WTP Vol. VI #6

An installation of hanging sculptures made from handmade paper
Was, Might Be by Hanna Vogel

steel wire, abaca and cotton paper,
pigment, rust, sealant
15’3” x 6’11” x 7’10”

I use craft-based materials and techniques in sculptural ways, to evoke growth, decay, and the tenuousness of the environment. My work addresses aspects of physical existence on the edge of potential destruction. The physical and connotative properties of the materials describe the conceptual content; rust undermines the flexibility of wire, turning it rigidly vibrant, and paper becomes a stiffly delicate skin of its own, rather than a transient means of communication or care.

The techniques that I use—woven basketry and handmade paper—reference the body in their labor-intensiveness, and in the degree to which they require the direct physical involvement of the maker. In presenting the result of this bodily labor in visual form, I investigate the paradox of vision as a conduit to the other senses, including proprioception. In The Eyes of the Skin, Juhani Pallasmaa writes, “the eyes want to collaborate with the other senses. All the senses, including vision, can be regarded as extensions of the sense of touch–as specializations of the skin. They define the interface between the skin and the environment—between the opaque interiority of the body and the exteriority of the world.” I believe that this haptic synesthesia can help to counter the centrality of vision and its presumed objectivity in Western art since the Renaissance, in favor of a more physically integrated experience.

By using vision to call on the other senses, I want to investigate the subject/object duality of embodied experience: with my body, I perceive and interact with the world around me, while at the same time my body is an object whose physical characteristics are defined in comparison to my surroundings. In my work, the combination of the material, size, rhythmic repetition, and spatial arrangement ask for physical consideration from the viewer as they move through and around it. The larger-than-human scale of my installations eases the phenomenological, and sometimes physical, entry of the viewer into the world of the work, thereby proposing their own human body as just another object in the haptic arrangement. With this sensory understanding of the self as an integrated part of its environment, my works aims to cultivate compassion for the physical world around us and for our own embodied experience.”

Hanna Vogel earned her MFA from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMassD) and a BFA with high distinction from the California College of the Arts (CCA). She has shown her work nationally and internationally. She has been awarded numerous scholarships grants, as well as fellowships from Yaddo and Sculpture Space Inc. She was the resident artist at Furman University for spring 2018.

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