Hannah Zimmerman is an artist and educator based in Cincinnati, Ohio. She recently completed her MFA at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston and received a BFA in Studio Art and BS in Art Education from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In 2015, she was a Yeck College Artist Fellow at the Dayton Art Institute. Zimmerman has exhibited her work regionally and nationally and will begin a 10-month residency at Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati this fall.
Within her paintings, Zimmerman uses introspection to capture her physical and emotional presence through time and space. Mired in ambiguity and self-referentiality, Zimmerman’s work takes a non-linear approach to communicate her personal history through memory, experience, and expectation.
Tell us about the work(s) you have in this exhibition.
I Said Too Much or Maybe Not Quite Enough
19″ x 22″ framed
Gouache on paper
I’ve Said Too Much or Maybe Not Quite Enough is a painting within a larger body of work titled Then or Now or Somewhere In-Between. Within this series, points of connection are made between the introspective nature of my poetry and the quiet interior spaces of my home. Though not directly illustrative of the writing, the paintings echo similar sentiments of uncertainty and absence, while maintaining a sense of playfulness. I’ve Said Too Much or Maybe Not Quite Enough explores the way in which self-imposed expectations alter one’s perception of self and of one’s potential. Throughout this series, personal shortcomings (whether real or imagined) are situated in space with memories, moments of triumph, and evidence of the persistent need to push forward.
What draws you to your chosen medium, what do you love about it?
Though my paintings are made entirely with acrylic-based gouache, the process of making them involves two different experiences of time. I begin each painting with a fluid and gestural line drawing using slightly watered-down gouache. This initial drawing is often created within one sitting and engages with the fleeting experience of perception. Following this, I then spend days (or weeks, depending on the size) meticulously applying color throughout the scene. While maintaining the integrity of the original linework, the remaining color application may involve three or four layers of color in particular places before I am satisfied with the result. As I build up these various attempts, small areas of the previous layers are often left visible, adding to the cumulative nature of my process. The matte and opaque qualities of this type of gouache allow me to build up these layers and decide how much evidence of the process I want to reveal as I cement and preserve the image on the surface of the paper. Because my practice is partly based on self-referentiality, one of my favorite parts of this process is later recreating a representation and watching the original image shift as it is repeated and re-contextualized in new work.
What inspires you to make art?
As an image-maker, I am influenced by other painters, especially those that engage with interior spaces within their work. I am drawn to work that includes the human figure despite the fact that my paintings are always void of the human form. I often look to artists of the past including Edouard Vuillard, Henri Matisse, and Alice Neel, as well as contemporary painters, mixed-media artists, and photographers. Philosophers Henri Bergson and Gaston Bachelard have also been influential in furthering my conceptual understanding of time and space. As for the imagery itself, I always start with looking. Observation is a key component of my practice and the starting point for each image as I rarely stage or intentionally manipulate a scene. Rather, each composition arises out of perception. Within the nuanced messiness or peculiar arrangement of objects in space, I work to capture a sense of self.