by Cassie Stephens. Art Teacher, Johnson Elementary
Imagine if you had the opportunity to speak with a maker of masterpieces, to pick that artist’s brain, inquire on their inspirations, seek out their knowledge and wisdom. If you had such a chance, what would you ask?
Now, let’s just say that person happens to be local contemporary artist Hannah Lane, creator of colorful multimedia works that embrace such a range of themes from farm animals to landscapes to figurative work. What questions spring to your mind for a bright young artist in our fair city?
If you happen to be a 10-year-old, the first question that might come to your mind is, “Do you know any other Hannahs?”
I had the pleasure of introducing my fabulous fourth grade artists to the lovely Hannah Lane recently. My students learned about her work before she came to my art room. We chatted about her technique of layering paint, papers, and other media. We learned that she often works with themes, creating a series of pieces based on such ideas. Finally we discussed what we might ask her when she came to create with us.
So, yeah. That was the first question that popped into their heads when she came to visit.
After teaching us a fun poem about her name (such a good sport!), Hannah introduced the kids to a body of work she calls her crowd series. To explore this theme, I asked my students to spend five minutes in their sketchbooks drawing an image of where they might see a crowd. What is so wonderful about Hannah’s crowd series is that it focused on the crowd, not the place. This allows the viewer to see themselves in her work and really explore their individual idea of a crowd. My students’ drawings ranged from a crowded theme park and a concert to sports events and even a funeral!
Once our sketch time concluded, Hannah allowed the kids a peak inside her creative process. She shared with the young artists her stash of painted and collected papers that she uses in her work. After she demonstrated her technique, the kids were turned loose to explore adding a layer of collage to their previously painted canvases. She chatted with them about how she uses symbols in her crowd paintings, like the image of a crown. This inspired many students to cut out such shapes as hearts and stars.
Once these small masterpieces are dry, my students will have the opportunity to create their own crowd images in the work. We ended our time with Hannah discussing all that we’d learned (turns out Hannah knew several other Hannahs) and saying thank you to our new favorite artist.