Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hannah Rogak - Installation-Sculpture

Hannah Rogak

I am the Chicago-raised product of a quiet, yet emotionally strong, Chicago School of the Art Institute alumnus and a determined, entrepreneurial former firearms manufacturer. After years of feeling defeated by art-on-paper, I took three classes from now good friend Josh Almond (http://www.joshalmond.com/), who single-handedly revived my interest in creating art and enabled my 3-dimensional abilities to explode. About 60% of what I create is because of his guidance and pants-kicking those years ago (and inspiration from all his works since).

In 2009, I moved to Minneapolis by way of Orlando, FL (terrible place; don’t ask). I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in social psychology. In June, 2010, the Northern Warehouse Artists Cooperative, in their divine wisdom, accepted me into their venerable ranks. Last month I participated in the Saint Paul Art Crawl with my NWAC brethren. That about gets you caught up thus far.

I saw your exhibit, “Keepsakes: An Exhibition in Loneliness” at the 2010 Fall St. Paul Art Crawl. Art crawls can be an overwhelming experience with the dozens and dozens of artists showing in a small area. But when walking into your studio/living space, a wave of sadness came over me immediately upon entering your space. It was actually quite remarkable. Tell me about this project.

Physically, the show was an installation with soft music, low lighting, song quotes, prose, and poetry on the walls, and plaster partial body casts around the apartment. A pair of legs lounged in my hammock, hands washed dishes at my sink, a torso floated above the floor, changing a light bulb in the ceiling. All headless, colorless, and dissolving away into puddles of white. -

It began as a falling out with a very dear friend of mine in the spring. I had already been playing with a visual of anonymous body parts, perhaps turning my studio into a solid stream of the Underworld, with body parts reaching out from the floor. That started to strike me as too campy and less eerie, and I quickly imaged a normal apartment, not set up as a gallery, littered with bodies attempting to carry on even as they are dissolving.

As my head was full of sadness and regret at the loss of a friend, and the confusion of not knowing quite how or when it happened (how I let it happen), I couldn’t help but see those forms in my house as anything but shadows from my past. Reminding me of beautiful moments, tumultuous debates, desperate pleadings, and content early morning coexistences forever lost. ..

The lettering on the wall is actually a direct result of my particular process. Instead of sketching (I have never felt truly comfortable in 2 dimensions), I write my thought processes. Everything on the wall came out of my notebook, and most of it is more or less unedited from what came out as I tried to get a handle on the concept of my exhibit (I became more comfortable with the term exhibit instead of “show” or “gallery” because it seemed more fitting to a display of true-to-life forms and ideas than a presentation of art. It was more like a history museum than an art gallery, to me).

A visitor to the exhibit early on recommended I compile the writings into a booklet with pictures of the exhibit. That’s currently in the works and will be offered through my website, and most likely at the Spring 2011 Art Crawl.

How does this work differ from some of the other work you have done?

Though it is one of my favorite media, I’ve not had the opportunity to do installation art in full before. That requires not only a lot of space to show your work, but a lot of access and control over the space well before the opening. Fortunately, the live-work spaces in my building allow for that. Working on such a large scale and having that level of control over presentation was immensely freeing and inspiring; I found much of the exhibit came together in the last month as I was planning the layout and not in the first several months of constructing the actual pieces.

The integration of anatomy, language, and psychology into this work is, however, a common thread through many of my previous pieces.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

Josh is famous for saying “Keep working on it” whenever his students bring him new concepts for a project. He would never say yes to your initial idea, because he knew no matter how good it was, no matter how much of an inspiration of genius you thought you had, you could make it better- more thoughtful, more powerful, better crafted. Growing up, my mother did the same, tempered lifting praise with constructive pushing. There is nothing more necessary for a growing artist.

So best advice I’ve ever been given? Never settle on your first (or second or third…) idea.

Tell me about your working space and your creative process?

I am extremely fortunate to have a roughly 1500 sq ft cement-floored studio at the Northern Warehouse building. There I can use my power tools, make a mess with plaster, and move around large pieces of furniture and materials, all without damaging the floors!

As I mentioned before, I have to start any serious project by writing. I start with the concept and work from there. Whatever particular emotion or idea inspired me, the materials, scale, color, etc. that I choose stem from that original seed, and all of that is explored on paper, through the written word (I usually do not type in the early stages). I may sketch outlines, but more to get a sense of construction dimensions than to plan the actual look and texture of any piece. That will have been determined already.

Sometimes I will just start a piece in a material I like and see where it goes, without any plan, but that is more just to keep myself producing and thinking, and less a finished product. Some of the media I am particularly fond of exploring creatively are wood-carving, metal fabrication, found objects, fabric (I sew and crochet), and, of course, plaster Sometimes I will use these to decorate my house/body, to give to friends and family, or just to toss or reuse.

Actually, a lot of my artwork, serious or not, ends up in the trash. I know I probably shouldn’t say that. But it has nothing to do with how much I value my work. It’s a mix of a few factors, including not wanting to see the piece destroyed slowly and accidentally over time (intention is so much prettier in destruction), enjoying the emotional freedom of not being obsessed with my objects, all the way to just not having room for it all (a problem particularly thorny for 3D artists)."

Which Minnesota artists do you enjoy?

I’m actually really new to the visual art scene in Minnesota, since I’m a recent transplant here, so I will plead a bit of ignorance. However, I really have to give affection to fellow NWAC members Rhea Pappas, Matthew Rucker , Kara Hendershot, and Jessie McNally).

Musically, I would have to say local band Dark Dark Dark, and rap artists Atmosphere and P.O.S.. The Current saved my life when I moved here from Chicago.

If I were to follow you around on an “art day” in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?

It depends on what you’d want to see. If you want to see where I go to get inspiration, I would take you to the Walker, hiking in a state park, to Ground Zero’s Bondage-a-Go-Go, The Bad Waitress, or just walking through both downtowns. After that it would be Home Depot (the art store for sculptors) and Rockler.

Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?

I have been a part of and have loved DeviantArt.com for almost a decade. They have international and local artists, everything from internationally-renowned to your 13-year-old cousin’s Manga tracings. They also have prints available for purchase of all calibers and contests, both of which directly benefit the artists on the site.

Aside from that, I rely on the Citypages.com and vita.mn, because they list smaller galleries and shows in unexpected venues, as well as neighborhood organizations like St Paul Art Crawl and NEMAA .

Hannah Rogak

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Wow this was a really, really good post! Absolutely love the medium Hannah used. Keep up the great work!