Sometimes a person can quietly wear many, many hats. Hannah Bartman serves on Walla Walla's newly anointed Walla Walla Arts Commission, a board member of Art Walla since 2016, and is the organizer for ArtWalla’s First Friday Art Tour, (previously called Art Walk). She works at the Walla Walla Foundry, curates shows at Brasserie Four, collaborates and organizes pop-up art shows, and she writes articles about artists. Which is how I met Hannah in 2015. Oh, and did I forget to mention- she is also an artist?
As Studio Two Zero Two is a proud participant in the First Friday Art Tour program, Questioning Artists invited Hannah to pick from the 50 questions. This spring, she finished her new mural Idolatry, at the Candy Co. building. This is Walla Walla’s first downtown public art, made solely by a woman. Hannah Bartman’s work uses graphic symbols to investigate place and history. Her work often shows up in public spaces or is about the stories that we claim are public. She received her BA in Studio Art from Whitman College in 2016.
Childhood game that feels pertinent to your work now?
When I was little I was constantly making up stories and scenarios to play out with my family, friends, dog or just by myself. I would write plays and design dinner menus for my parents, playing both director, lead actor and sous chef. My mom is constantly finding eccentric documents that I made when I was little: fake FBI badges for me and my dog, photos of me riding an ill-designed skateboard chariot, an elaborate tiny house for my stuffed mouse. All were superbly weird objects that I made up then that make me laugh and understand myself more now. I was always creating fake realities for myself and using my imagination to craft something fun, which I undoubtedly still do.
Is there anything you're hoping to be asked?
Where do you see yourself in your work? I like to ask other artists this because I struggle with it myself. Of course I'm all over my work, but I rarely see myself making public work that is directly related to my life. Often when I do (or even when I don't notice that I'm doing it), the work concerns my presence as a female since I feel that identity so strongly in my day-to-day.
What are your necessities to be successful?
A deep sense of meaning in my everyday. A passionate concentration that doesn’t fade with rejection or failure. And a really nice studio with lots of windows.
What does “doing your work” mean?
I wake up most days feeling like I’m behind on my art-making work. Making work for me isn’t just the physical part, like actually making the object, but largely it’s in my mind. I digest my surroundings and think about how I can translate a thought into a meaningful object. And for me, that happens mostly just organically. I can’t mark set times to make myself sit down and do the work; the thoughts generally come on their own and I scribble down ideas or images on sticky notes throughout the day. There is no doubt that then when it comes to actually making the artwork, it’s hard work, requiring patience and concentration to get the thing done. The “work” of the finished piece is always happening though, whether it’s meandering somewhere in the back of my brain or standing right in front of me.
Where do you find courage?
I repeat to myself “Everything is temporary.” I make my own life seem so huge sometimes that I forget how tiny I really am. Sometimes I forget how funny it is to be alive, and remembering that I am constantly changing is very encouraging for me.
To Learn More about Hannah Bartman
NOT Published by the Walla Walla Union Bulletin, April 17 - She was a popular girl that week and there was another article on her instead.