Hannah Mills

Artist Statement

My work is inspired by a frustration with my childhood and the cultural concepts that shaped who I am and remain within my subconscious today. I use my art to confront this reality. By “this reality”, I mean our associative way of learning, our cultural existence, and the reality that if we observe something enough times it becomes truth to us, and that all of this is natural. I play with concepts that seem concrete but are built solely on repetitive observation. Aside from my drawings, my pieces all include aspects of creation, alteration, or destruction over time via the elements, repetition, and/or ritual.

Artistic ritual, performance, and meditation are not different from cultural ritual, performance, and meditation. These practices, along with repetition, can reach the subconscious. When ritual and repetition are stabilized they solidify mindsets. When ritual and repetition are exhausted, their effects are revealed. When ritual and repetition are altered, so are the connotations and assumptions go along with them.  Most of my pieces include or reference this aspect of performance. Some pieces are sculptures or installations that hold evidence of a performative history. Some pieces are simply performances.

My most recent work, including 7 Days, 4 Days , 11 Days, and Ripe (to be viewed as a painting), consciously deals with a ritualistic action that is recorded for the viewer. Rather than show the viewer an actual performance, I show the effects and reminisce of one. I put space between the viewer and the ritual to allow for a more analytical, and removed perspective.

I do not want my viewers to experience the work just as I do, as I am focusing on my own cultural history as I create it.  Rather, I desire for them to see the functioning components of a piece and then apply it to their own mindset and cultural history.

I use warm earthy tones because of their emotional duality. They are caustic, aggressive, and frustrated while also being soothing and inviting. These tones are also on the verge of natural. In contrast, I use white because it is sterile, pure, and concrete. I use Terracotta so often in my work because of its color and its physicality. Clay as a medium is natural, yet it is also manmade. I use silly putty because of its connotations, and behavior as a material. Silly putty references childhood, the time when we are the most mentally open to culture. The original color is both a flesh color, and a processed color. This natural and artificial body is glossy, it smells like plastic, it is impressionable, and it consumes trace amounts of whatever touches it.