Interview: Behind the Scenes of Hannah Stouffer’s Psychedelic New Works

by Nathan SpoorPosted on

Hannah Stouffer is a Los Angeles based artist who describes herself as a highly curious individual. She learns by engaging with a topic and researching it obsessively. Stouffer finds her path of discovery, as well as self-discovery, to be an extremely important avenue for creativity, often achieving a meditative state while working. Her two-person show with Hilary White (recently interviewed here), titled “Ingress Egress” opens July 24th at Paradigm Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. Both artists appear to be on a journey to create and explore, from personal need as well as artistic inspirations. Stouffer explains that “Ingress Egress” defines humanity’s ability to identify with somewhat of a forward-moving passageway versus that of a departure. Both she and White work in themes of meditation, belief and faith; from both a spiritual and physical standpoint. Each artist’s work is imbued with her own unique approach to colors and textures, as well as dimensional explorations (at least visually) and possibly a hint of the psychedelic. We were invited into Stouffer’s studio for an exclusive look as she puts the final touches on her new works.

HF: For those of us that don’t know your work, please tell us where your studio is and how did your and Hilary’s paths originally cross?

HS: I’m based in Los Angeles, and saw Hilary’s work in person for the first time at Art Basel Miami this past year; she was showing with Paradigm Gallery! I’ve loved her work for a long time, and chatted up Paradigm to see if she was around so I could fan out on her in person, ha. I’m looking forward to finally meeting her out in Philly.

HF: Who came up for the idea of the two of you to show together, and when did you finally get to catch up with Hilary?

HS: I had just missed meeting Hilary at Art Basel, but shortly after she reached out and invited me to exhibit with her for what would soon be our two-person show! She had the vision of our works potentially complementing each other in an exhibition, and of course, I humbly agreed. This was in the beginning of the year I believe.

HF: What does the title or concept of “Ingress Egress” mean to you, and how does that affect or begin to address your art?

HS: We went back and forth with a few ideas for titles, though thematically I think we were both working towards a similar direction. The title Ingress Egress, defines what we identified with a somewhat of a passageway versus a departure. We both work in themes of meditation, belief and faith, from both a spiritual and physical standpoint and really liked the contrast of the two title words.

HF: When you begin a new work, do you think of your art in terms of just one piece or as a part of a series? Is that larger context important to tie the works together?

HS: Both I think, and yes absolutely. I pretty much tend to only work in series; each one being totally different, with some underlying similarities. Because of this, I work at everything at the same time, so I can also focus on how they are coming together visually. My planning process is pretty meager, but I gather and collect a lot of appealing elements to pull from and just hope that I can remember all of them. I try to work with a similar visual aesthetic and basis for each new series I produce, even if the medium varies. Somehow, it all miraculously comes together in the end.

HF: With all the activity in the world with murals, there is much attention to scale being a topic for artists to address. Do you think in terms of scale when beginning new works? Are there any plans to go large either to promote this exhibit or in the future?

HS: It’s interesting to see an artist push themselves and their limits within their usual comforts and go bigger and bigger. This has been happening a lot, and its pretty amazing to be honest. I really enjoy creating large installation works, but its also one of the most physically trying things I’ve ever done, I’m a small human! I love the challenge and the problem-solving aspect but shit- it can be hard! We had discussed producing some larger scale walls in Philly as part of the show, or to do some interior installation pieces, but I think it just comes down to timing. I plan to do a little painting while I’m out there, even if its just on a smaller scale.

HF: Also fascinating is the amount of learning and growth that occurs from creating work, and from pursuing public exhibitions of one’s art. Do you have any insights that you’ve picked up that you would care to share with the up-and-coming artists out there?

HS: Sometimes I think this is the main reason I create. I’m a dangerously curious individual and the ways I learn is through becoming engaged with a topic for the sake of my work, and researching it obsessively. I rely on books a lot of the time, and my library card, or thrift stores and flea markets. There is a part of discovery, and self-discovery in finding material and creating that I think is super healthy and that I need. I’ve realized that the majority of my work is also just becoming a meditative process, and is more about that for me, the meditation that I achieve while working. Of course, I’m creating with common themes in mind, but usually I’m just working to work. I highly recommend letting your practice fully consume you, then going out for drinks after.

HF: Your latest exhibition “Ingress Egress” is a two-person show with Hannah Stouffer at Paradigm Gallery. You mentioned that you are also working on a large installation for next year, yet we are curious if you have other projects on the horizon – any cool news to let us in on?

HS: I’m really looking forward to a trip to Philly. It’s been a couple years and I think I’m gonna throw a little NY visit in there as well. Immediately after our show I’ll be exhibiting with 934 Gallery out in Columbus, Ohio, which is owned and operated by friend and fellow artist Mark Warren Jacques. I’ll be busy kicking my feet up in Aspen for a few weeks recouping with my family during this time, until I have to head back to LA. I have a couple NDA-related projects in August and then out to Detroit in September for Murals in the Market with 1xRun and Detroit Design Week! I grew up going to Detroit in the summers and am pretty hyped to make a trip back now that there is so much going on creatively. Then it’s Basel again, and the rest of my life just goes on.