Interview with Hanna August

The Bridge 18 was brought forth after a year of social distancing and living through a pandemic of which had not been seen for generations. Because of this, the previous edition sought to create a journal that reflected the themes of how people were feeling and what people craved most: connection. As the previous editors wrote, “Volume 18 celebrates the ebb and flow of connection using thread as a visual metaphor to stitch these works together, with moments of pause for self-reflection.

Hanna August, a junior Art and Education major at Bridgewater State University, was published three times in the previous journal. I sat down with her to ask a few questions about her process of creating art and why she chose those specific three pieces to publish in our journal. You can find there pieces below! Additionally, more of Hanna August’s artwork can be found on Instagram where Hanna posts her progress of art pieces that she works on in her various art classes and out of class!

Out of all your art pieces, why did you select Vitality, Serenity, and Unobtainable?

I chose these three pieces because of the various messages they held that I wanted to share with others who can relate to what is being said. Vitality touches upon the importance of bees and the delicate balance that must be maintained in order for our world to continue to bloom. Serenity is a dedication to my mom and a personal memory we share on the beach featured in this print, and she chose the name for that print. Unobtainable represents the endless limitations and obstacles immigrants are forced to face on their search for a better life. Balance, family, and immigration are all personal concepts to me, but they also resonate with others, and I wanted to make these prints accessible to those who want to see what I have to say about these subjects, and to those who also have a personal connection to these messages.

Which art mediums do you favor?

My favorite art mediums are printmaking, specifically intaglio and wood engraving, and acrylic painting.

Which art trends inspire your current work?

 I am continuing to create pieces that focus on current events that I am passionate about and portraying messages that are personal to me. Currently I am working on a Japanese woodcut that emphasizes how quickly time is slipping away to save our planet, and my next piece will be an intaglio print based on anxiety from personal experiences.

Can you say a little about each piece that you submitted?

Vitality is a wood engraving print that focuses on the necessity of bees and the important work they do to maintain life on Earth. This piece was carved from a small block of wood with wood engraving tools, and it took about four weeks to complete. Serenity is a relief woodcut print that is a recreation of a photograph I took in Mexico that connects back to my mom and the memory we share on this beach that is made to emit a calm feeling. This piece was carved from a larger block of plywood with a different set of tools from Vitality, and it took around 4 weeks to complete. Unobtainable focuses on immigration and the impossible limitations and obstacles immigrants must face to achieve the supposed American Dream that makes freedom and that dream seem unachievable. It is also a woodcut relief print made from four blocks of wood and one piece of linoleum, each printed with their own color, and this piece took about four weeks to complete as well.

What was the process of making the pieces that you submitted?

The three prints that are featured in the Bridge are all prints from various blocks of wood. Both Serenity and Unobtainable are woodcut relief prints, and Vitality is a wood engraving print. For Serenity I had one plank of plywood that I carved into with a set of tools, and the pieces that were carved away would appear white when printed. When I wanted to print my wooden block to create the finished print you see, I took a brayer, loaded it with ink by rolling it in various directions across glass, and then rolled it across my wooden block. Once the block was covered with an even layer of ink, a piece of paper was laid on top, then the block and paper are put into the press, and the paper is peeled off once pressed to reveal the image carved into the wood. Unobtainable is created in the same way, but each color had its own block of wood, so this print was made from four blocks of wood and one piece of linoleum for the black outlines. Each block would be printed on the same piece of paper to layer together for the final image. Vitality is a different type of wood cut altogether that is much smaller type of wood that is harder to obtain from trees and requires an entirely different set of delicate tools. I only used two tools for this piece, one carved away lines about the size of a pencil mark and the other small dots. Unlike woodcut relief where you carve into the plank of wood, with wood engraving you move the block and hold the tool in one place to carve, but the printing process is still the same.

What is your process of creating art? What happens when a piece is not going in the direction you would like it to/something that you may deem a failure?

Before I begin a piece, I choose a message that I want to explain, or I pick an event that is occurring in current news that I want to portray my point of view or beliefs on. When I was creating Serenity, I was very nervous because it was my first printmaking piece, so I wanted to make something that was comforting and familiar, hence why I chose a beach scene that holds a personal memory for me, and I wanted to portray that calm feeling to an audience. Unobtainable and Vitality are messages about issues currently in our world that I feel passionately about, and I wanted to highlight my thoughts on these subjects so its accessible for others who feel the same way as I or as a source of inquiry for those who want to know more. When a piece is not going in the direction I want it to, I take a step back and a small break. I try not to get discouraged, but I’m human and I often get disappointed when something I’m working on isn’t coming out like I expected, so by taking a minute to breathe and step away from the piece I can come back with a more positive attitude, and I notice things that were obscured because I was too intensely focused on my work. There will always be small sections of art that look a little wonky up close, but when you take a step back and look at the piece as a whole you recognize that what was once believed to be a failure that ruined your piece is a miniscule detail that adds to the entire artwork.

What would you say to other artists that would like to submit to The Bridge but are feeling anxious?

To those who feel anxious about submitting to The Bridge I would tell them, submitting to The Bridge is an amazing opportunity to get your artwork available to thousands of people, and you have the ability to resonate and influence others with your artwork and the message within it. You never know who you can inspire with your artwork!

Are there any professors at BSU that have helped you on your artistic journey?

One professor that has helped me at BSU is Professor Leigh Craven. She introduced me to printmaking, which has become a fast favorite for me. She has encouraged and inspired me in the past year and she has always offered me a helping hand in any medium. I would not be where I am today in my artistic journey without her, and I hope I can continue to grow in her classroom.

We would like to thank Hanna August for sitting down for an interview. Follow Hanna on all her social media and look out for new artwork!

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