A Conversation of Many Voices

by Megan Kelley

Figure Collection 2, Acrylic on canvas, 36” x 24”

Figure Collection 2, Acrylic on canvas, 36” x 24”

The atmosphere I enter is airy and bright, clean and colorful as many sheaves of paper flutter in the slight breeze. Hannah Lane herself is likewise bright and full of light, inviting me into the quiet nook that serves as a studio within her gallery space in the Historic Downtown Arcade building.

With the walls filled with pieces both finished and unresolved, it’s important for Lane to invite audiences into the space of her work, allowing them to join her in unlocking its secrets. “I’m always enjoying the question of what I’m processing,” Lane says, “and I’m very comfortable inviting the audience to view each step of my process.” As a mixed-media painter whose paper, paint, and drawn work fluidly blend into a single visual statement, Lane is thoughtful and articulate in explaining how the work moves through one stage to the next, delighting in her joy in the materials.

Though fluent in the language of paint, Lane finds expression in the manipulation and exploration of paper as a mixed-media element within her painting works.

Crowd Series Diptych, Mixed media, 36” x 8” each

Crowd Series Diptych, Mixed media, 36” x 8” each

“I started really collecting papers after I spent time in Italy,” Lane explains, pointing out favorites in the piles of bright scraps that fill her studio. “I became obsessed with the marbling of paper and fascinated by how tangible they were.” They served first as visual inspiration, until Lane found new processes after a workshop on pigmenting papers and began engaging paper as a vital part of her constructive process.

“Pressing soft, ground paints into the papers gave them my own marks. It allows them to become something more and individual.”

Her paintings reflect this individual nature and intimate attention to detail.

Though her various series are easily identifiable as part of the same visual language, their aesthetic vocabulary provides a breadth of work that explores several avenues of dialogue.

Cottonland, Acrylic on canvas, 30” x 48”

Cottonland, Acrylic on canvas, 30” x 48”

Some of her work continues the discussions of flora and fauna from her native Louisiana, pairing the recognizable forms and figures of the swamps and marshes with flat expanses of color and subtle shifts in hues. More recently, Lane’s Mindscapes series explores the Tennessee outdoors, using abstracted elements of landscape—horizontal shifts in layered color through chunks of paper and piled paint—to create suggestions of the changes in elevation and a visceral exploration of space that Lane experiences while hiking and camping in the state’s wild spaces.

On Lookout, Mixed media on canvas, 40” x 30”

On Lookout, Mixed media on canvas, 40” x 30”

Lane’s work shines in moments that it includes the evidence of sketches and process, letting the hand-marks of the artist peek through the painting as drawn lines and notations, or where windows of underpainting shine up or peek through the large, graphic areas of subtle color shifts. Much like Lane’s Arcade studio itself, these visual engagements reveal not just the steps of the physical treatment of the materials, but the mental articulation of the artist’s decision-making and editing process. Lane’s Crowds series exemplifies this process, visually evoking an extended conversation of color and diversity, with each drawn figure holding their own tilt and treatment as they exist within the paint and paper of the suggested architectural spaces.

The joyous nature of the crowd paintings mimics Lane’s celebration of the crowds that visit her studio space and her delight in inviting them to share her conversation. “When you make in a space—when you allow the work to inhabit the space with you and you give yourself permission to inhabit the space of your work—you unlock so much,” Lane explains. “I wanted to invite the viewer to have that personal response within this space and an explorative experience.”

View more of Hannah Lane’s work online at www.hannahlane.com or visit her Arcade studio and gallery space during the First Saturday Downtown Art Crawl between 6 and 9 p.m. or on weekdays by appointment. hannahlane@hannahlane.com.

Photograph by Anthony Scarlati

Photograph by Anthony Scarlati

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