Hannah Faith Yata, Eclectix Interview
Hannah’s wonderful works pop with colorful imaginings, organic forms and crazy wild impossibilities. Swirling undersea creatures, plant life and human forms meld into a fantastical surrealist wonderland. Fish-headed, anthropomorphic women which peel away Magritte-style, become enveloped in botanical beauty juxtaposed with environmental concerns.
Hannah was born in Douglasville, GA in 1989 and began painting and working with oils in her early childhood. Even as a child, her paintings were comical and surreal in nature. She went on to study at the University of Georgia where she received her bachelor’s degree in drawing and painting. Since moving to New York in 2012 she‘s been working hard to make her passion- painting, her full time occupation.
Do you work full-time on your art or do you also have another job/interest?
I am working to make creating artwork my sole career… but I am still thankful to have a job to pay the bills for the time being. I work graveyard shift recreating photorealistic reproductions of images into paintings for probably one of the richest artists in the world… however, I will leave them unnamed. I don’t want them to be connected to me for the rest of my life.
You’ve mentioned feminism (and the role of women) becoming a metaphor for how we treat the earth. Such a wonderful correlation! Is there anything more you would like to add to this?
Sure! I am struggling on writing a statement about my work. I still feel it’s not as deep as my thoughts go… but then again, I seriously over analyze these things. I think feminism was a hard word even me to come to terms with. I never thought of myself as a feminist, I was probably even the opposite. Growing up, I worked so hard to be masculine – I overworked, I plastered on the makeup and wore it like a mask, I barely slept, I bought the most ridiculous things to feel better about myself. When I saw other women, girls, even children – doing the same thing, I started to realize that my behavior and way about denouncing my femininity was not only setting a bad example, but was wrecking destruction in my path. I was seeking to control my surrounding environment and people’s opinions about me, yet at the same time I had no concern for the cost at which I was doing it. I think its seems this way of thinking is pretty pervasive, “I’ve gotta get mine no matter what the cost..” and pretty dangerous.
An interesting bit of history/folklore/gossip surrounding one of my distant relatives is …
My mom researched stories and a bit of family history awhile ago. Apparently one of my great-great-great aunts went around openly sleeping with a bunch of African-American slaves to protest slavery.
My favorite art memory from my childhood is …
I used to draw comics a lot during class. I especially loved Pikachu. I think at some point probably almost everyone in my class had a deranged Pikachu.
My interest in painting started …
Very early. I was probably about 9 or 10 when I was home schooled. My dad was very strict growing up – no TV, and we couldn’t hang out with friends that much. He was gone a lot – but he loved us and got us random things to see what we would do with them – drums, horseback riding lessons, a microscope, pianos, … hell, even an electric guitar. I always had a love for creating, inventing, and tinkering, so when my dad bought us paints I immediately fell in love with them.
I am often inspired and motivated by …
TED Talks. I think I’ve watched every one of them… and still wait impatiently for new ones. I think seeing all of these different people work so hard from so many different backgrounds tell their stories and the things they’ve learned, it just blows my mind. I also listen to a lot of music. Music drives a lot of my imagery and gets my mind going in ways that documentaries and books can’t.
If I could spend the day with any artist it would be… And we would…
Rosa Bonheur. We would dress up like men and walk around drawing and laughing at everyone that fell for our disguises.
The art technique that has helped me the most is ….
I went to an art school that was not very academic. I don’t really feel like they taught me the way I wanted to learn how to paint.
However, I remember modeling for Adam Miller for one of his paintings and seeing the way he worked out his under paintings and the gentle way he blended the paint completely rewired my brain and the way I thought about paint. It became less about a wet blotch you slap on a canvas and more about the life of the paint and its mobility.
If I could own one piece of art, out of the world’s collections, it would be …
”The Herring Net” by Winslow Homer.
I made up so many ridiculous stories about it when I was young. I used to play Masterpiece when I was a little girl and I always HAD to have that painting. I think it has sentimental value as well as just being a spectacular painting. I think I somehow always felt emotionally responsive to the piece as well.
My current favorite piece of my own art is …
“Artificially Sweetened.” (above)
I had a lot of fun with that crazy, cracked out lizard. I’ve had so many people ask me how I come up with these ideas and what hallucinogens I was on. I should be clear, I’m not against drugs but I have never taken hallucinogens and I sure as hell can’t paint while I’m high! I think most people don’t realize that what my paintings are many layers of symbolism and concerns about society and the world around us… and not just because I’m just because I‘m totally “tripping out.”
The most memorable thing anyone has ever said to me about my art is …
Someone told me they started crying and couldn’t stop staring at “Take Me Seriously” , (above). To them they saw the degrading way that most women are viewed in society – silly, pathetic, ridiculous. It really shocked me that someone took it THAT seriously… I suppose because in part I was hiding behind my humor when I painted it. I suppose it was a particularly rough time for me, but that’s is what inspired it.
My ultimate project or fantasy is …
Doing a massive painting that combines Jean Pierre Arboleda’s and my nuttiness in an epic battle of survival. (Probably will include a lot of balloon frogs and fish heads.)
I am currently working on ….
A new series of including ideas of masks, shamans, dances, rituals.
The inspiration behind it was …
I saw a beautiful exhibition on my last trip to Japan. There were all these masks from around the world. It felt spiritual, strange, beautiful, and tickled a strange funny bone. I came across this documentary talking about this idea that whenever people were conquering other lands the agenda was the wipe out the indigenous tribes to weaken the energy of the earth. I thought that was interesting and worth some thought and research and it’s sparked a series of paintings with strange masks.
A specific event in my life that sparked a number of my works was …
Moving to New York. It sparked a fire, and urgency in me that made me work harder than I ever thought humanly possible. I think combined with the energy of the city, the amount of visual media I was faced with day-to-day gave my work a whole new life. Seeing the struggle of so many people in their day-to-day life, the amount of consumerism and trash was a level that I had never really seen before.
The last song I chose to listen to was … Holding On to You, by Twenty One Pilots.
The last book I couldn’t put down was … Carl Jung “The Earth Has a Soul.”
My favorite all-time author is … David Sedaris
One of my favorite words is … Fuck.
One of my favorite smells is … Country horses.
One of my (recently) favorite movies/TV shows is … The Walking Dead.
I can’t live without … My stupid iPhone.
It’s not hip, but I really love … Freaking random people out with Smeegle impersonations.
My favorite part in/of my home is …
My bathroom – it’s all falling apart, it’s peeling and old, but it looks like a Antonio Lopez Garcia painting. The tiles are white, but the molding between them is cracking. I can actually feel, on really cold days the air seeping through the cracks when I put my feet against the wall of the bathtub that’s facing to the outside. Everything else is painted eggshell or white. Well lived in, well-loved, and the atmosphere is sweet. I love taking a bath in the morning before I go to bed. It’s so peaceful, old and disintegrating but beautiful.
If I could live anywhere in the world, it would that be?
Probably somewhere like Alaska. It seems so luscious, gorgeous, dangerous, and still cold enough all the time to keep nipping at you to make you feel alive. I would love to climb the mountains, fish, and live in a little cabin out the middle of nowhere and just paint weirdness.
My favorite motto (or quote) is …
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have, was once among the things you only hoped for.” by Epicurus
Hannah Faith Yata’s Website
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