Greenfield resident Stacy Hannings has been influenced by nature from a very young age, and uses it as the inspiration for her artwork. During the month of June, a selection of her photography is on view.
Hannings is a graduate of ConVal (2010) and received a fine arts degree from Colby Sawyer College in 2014.
For more information about Hannings and her artwork visit her website: www.stacyhannings.com.
“I have always enjoyed thinking creatively. I grew up in an artistic family and the desire to create always seemed natural. Living in the woods in a small New England town, without any siblings, led me to spend a lot of time by myself. I would wander outside for hours, watching animals, talking to them, seeing how close I could get, playing in the stream, swimming in the lake, and climbing trees. Nature has always been a very influential part of my life.
College came at a very difficult time in my life and I gravitated towards art as a form of therapy. It allowed me to explore my feelings and emotions without having to verbalize them. My art grounded itself in nature, making me feel safe and sheltered. It helped me deal with my obsession to remember by allowing me to dive into my memories, free from any judgment. In my art I have focused on transience, the idea that everything is constantly changing and in motion. Photography and sculpture are the two forms of art I concentrate on. Although these are very different mediums, I connect them both to the natural world.
With photography I am able to capture a moment or object before it changes. I place great value on almost everything: little flowers growing along the road, crushed pinecones on the forest floor. To me, it is all worthy of a greater importance. By photographing these little things, I force people to look more closely at them. I make them see the beauty I know is there. These objects get covered up, stepped on, or they decompose as time passes. Now they are immortalized in a photograph. Changes can occur but the photo remains the same. It gives me comfort to preserve these objects, knowing they won’t be forgotten.
When taking photographs I prefer to separate myself from other people. I often wander into the woods, making sure to find quiet, relatively untouched areas. I feel like a kid again, filled with that same excitement and alertness. My inspiration comes from the natural things and light around me. I shoot largely with a macro lens, which allows me to get close to my subject. I look for little things with unique forms, colors, and textures. My photo series I slipped and landed in a pricker bush is largely an exploration of color and small flora throughout the forest. I experimented with shallow depth of field and blurring parts of my image with leaves and other plant life. These blurs dominate the composition and cast an ethereal glow across the photo. I rarely go outside with a clear vision of what I want to photograph; I am simply responding to my surroundings.
When creating sculptures, I gain most of my inspiration from my materials. I work mainly with found objects, many of which I find in the woods. I begin to sketch ideas based on my collection of objects. Once I have settled on a rough idea I continue to gather materials, this time with a much clearer focus. As I start constructing my vision, I am constantly making changes and adjustments. Through trial and error I learn how certain materials can be manipulated and my overall piece evolves through this experimentation. My sculpture Grandmother Willow, an integration of human and natural form, was largely an exploration of different natural materials. I first built a wire armature of a basic outline of a head, shoulders, and upper torso. From there I began to work my materials and create the rest of the form. Many of the plants and leaves I was using began to disintegrate or crack as they dried, and I had to continually alter my plan to fit the ever-changing state of my materials.
With sculpture I do the opposite of my photography and embrace the ever-changing qualities of nature. I highlight them. Many of my sculptures have elements that will continue to change as time goes on. Accepting and embracing this change has been an interesting journey. I never want things to be different, but life has a way of making that impossible. I make art largely for myself, and creating will always be a way to calm my anxious mind.