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Derek Smith 0:08
Hi everyone and welcome or welcome back to the Mississippi artists to artists podcast brought to you by the little yellow building in Brookhaven, Mississippi. I'm your host, Derek Covington Smith, and just a thing or two before we get started. Our next exhibition is going to be going up April 1 through May 6, online at the little yellow building.com, and it's entitled body. It's an exploration of figurative artwork by Mississippi artist. And it's not only an exploration of figurative art work, but also the term figurative and body itself. Check that out, that'll be April 1 through May 6. We currently have two different ways for you to go on and promote yourself. The first one is southern exposure, and that's self submitted artists profiles that get featured each week on our social media. The second is MSA2A hotline, call in and leave messages about your upcoming events, things you want to promote, promote yourself, give yourself a shout out, give a shout out to others, ask questions to upcoming artists, whatever you'd like to leave, go ahead and call into the hotline, leave it on the voicemail, and we'll plug it into the show. We also have a change to our summer lineup. We were collaborating with the women's Art Association. And unfortunately, we couldn't make it happen this year. But it opened up a great opportunity to introduce you to the little yellow collective. The Collective is a group of artists that we've worked with through the shows or podcast and everybody has vibed well together and we've pulled together to become a support group for one another. And this wonderful group of artists is going to come together this summer to have an introduction show. Make sure you keep a lookout for the dates coming up. And the last thing is coming out very very soon is the very first edition of the tlyb art mag. I know that you've heard me talk about it over and over and over. But I am extremely proud and I'm so happy that you're going to be able to see it soon. If you haven't signed up yet go to tlybartmag.com and sign up. We are having a limited printing those will be $25 plus tax. Make sure that you use the code art mag to get free shipping and handling. And those should start shipping out on the 24th all those details aside, visit thelittleyellowbuilding.com Visit tlybartmag.com visit these artists websites. I will talk to you later on to the show.
Hey, everyone, and thank you for joining in. Thank you for listening. We are we have a very special guest today. Hannah Hester. Hannah, welcome to the show. Thank you for coming on.
Hannah Hester 2:50
Thanks for having me.
Derek Smith 2:52
Why don't you go ahead and let's get started off tell us about your background and your history in art.
Hannah Hester 2:58
So it's unconventional, unconventional, and then I don't really have a history in art. I was not one of those kids that was raised with a pencil in my hand. I've always been very creative. I tried all these different mediums in high school. I took a video camera everywhere with me like because I'm old enough that I carried an actual video camera around with me. And I would splice it into these videos of all my friends I would spend days working on it. But in regards to like Visual Arts drawing painting, I don't really have much of a history in that. I went to college for English. And then I worked in books for about five years, I worked at Lemuria for quite some time and children's books and then eventually managing the fiction room. And then when we moved to New Jersey, I managed an independent bookstore up there very briefly in Jersey City and then I got an internship I was a very old intern. I got an internship at the clug agency in Manhattan, which was so much fun. So I spent six months just like reading manuscripts and offering notes. And then I missed having weekends off and having money to pay rent. So I took a corporate job for the rest of my time in Manhattan and then we moved back to Mississippi. My husband is a physician and he did his residency at Rutgers University. So while he was driving into New Jersey, I was taking the train into Manhattan. So when his residency was done, we moved back to Mississippi. I was suddenly jobless, and I wasn't working in books anymore. I didn't really know what I wanted to do and embroidery just kind of happened. One of my friends in New Jersey was doing this really badass stuff like feminist punk rock embroidery, which I didn't know was an option up until till that point. Sorry, that's my cat, Judy. Up until that point, embroidery was something old women did. And Ashanti would come over for these movie nights. And she would bring these pieces that she was working on. And the most striking one that she finished was something called the lady with a pig by. I think it's felici on ROPs is how you say it. He's a French artist. And it was subversive, and it was like, kind of hard to look at, and it was bad ass. And so I asked her to teach me some really basic stitches, and I kind of never stopped. After that I wanted to just get some basic unprimed canvas to work on. I ordered some from Blick Art Materials and accidentally got like 60 yards. And I was like, Well, I guess I'm doing embroidery now.
And I finished that role, maybe three months ago, it took me about a year and a half to get through it. And it felt like kind of like a milestone, I was like, I did the thing. And then I got like another 60 yards. I'm so not really big background in art, per se. But just through knowing people who were making really cool stuff, and being inspired by them, I kind of fell into this medium that for the first time in my life. It feels like I can do it for hours, and I lose time. And I don't realize how long I've been doing it. And never in my whole life had anything like that. I never had any real hobbies or anything. And I was like, I guess I'm just like, I don't know, a crazy person who's just never going to have a hobby until I die. And then this just fell in my lap. And I have not been able to stop now for about two years.
Derek Smith 6:55
That's, it's interesting that you you refer to, you know that that state that you you get into when you start embroidering, because it's, I mean, it's a coveted thing. That's the flow state, you know, when you just lose all sense of time, and it melts away and you're lost. It just, it's, if you've been if you're an artist, and you've gotten into that state, it's addictive. You walk back into it all the time.
Hannah Hester 7:22
It really is. And at first, it really did just feel like a hobby, like this is what people with hobbies feel like. And then I was like, this feels a little more intense than a hobby. I would go into these fugue states and like eight hours later, I'd be like, Why is my neck hurt? And I'd be like, Oh, you've been doing this for eight hours, you haven't got up, got up to go to the bathroom. Water in like three days. And that was the point where I was like, Maybe we should stop calling this a hobby.
Derek Smith 7:52
Well, looking back on your Instagram, you know, your exploration into fiberarts It's looks organic. They almost some of them look like zoomed in pictures of almost mold are no and then some of them are these swatches of color that flow like almost a mountain escape from a range. It's just you've got so many beautiful patterns and color combinations, what inspires all of that
Unknown Speaker 8:20
nature. And I feel like that's actually probably a pretty common theme with fiber artists. Very often a lot of my favorite artists will be taking inspiration from like tide pools, you know, on the beach, those kinds of things. It's it's one of the more natural tendencies I feel like with this particular medium to take a lot of inspiration from the textures of our of outside because we have so much room to play with texture in this particular realm. That moss specifically tide pools, those kinds of things. And the colors that nature can provide are better than any color story or color theory that I could come up with on my own. My husband and I we went on this month long trip out west, which do not take a month long trip and a 16 foot Airstream with your loved one no matter how much you love them. It's too. It's too small space for too long a time. But we got to see the coolest stuff. And I would be at the Grand Canyon, not taking pictures of the Grand Canyon but taking pictures of the moss on the rocks at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Because the textures are great and the colors were just unbelievable like these oranges that were just like alien. It was so cool. And that's definitely where I get a lot of my inspiration from.
Derek Smith 9:50
So you've gone in and you've started embroidering, and you found that this is is really, you know, a passion. It's a part of you. It's a part of your creativity and I've noticed you've got an Etsy shop. And your How is how's that going? How's the translation of being able to do that?
Unknown Speaker 10:08
It is not obviously, based on my pricing and how slow it takes me to finish a piece, it is not a financially sustainable thing in regards to supporting me completely with my art. I'm lucky enough that for the first time in my life, I don't have to have a full time job. I basically supported myself, my husband all through med school, and residency and all that stuff. And I'm, I'm finally getting a little bit of a breather to do and try something new. The Etsy shop was more of an experiment. I think it started out kind of like, Will people buy this? And the answer has been mostly Yes. Pricing, I think that you'll probably find this, most of the artists that you talk to you pricing is difficult. And since I don't have a huge background in art, I'm still struggling a lot with imposter syndrome. Because I'm relatively new to this in the grand scheme of things. I'm a baby artist. And so it's difficult to charge what I feel like my work is worth on one hand, because I'm like, I don't have you know, I have not made my bones. But on the other hand, it's taking me literal hours to complete just a portion of one of these pieces. This is slow stitching, there's no machine involved. It's all hand stitching. If you see, you know, a piece that's mostly french knots, that took me at least eight hours, probably 10, just for that. So on the one hand, I'm like I can't charge with my I can't charge a lot, because I'm new. And on the other hand, I'm like this took so much time, it's took so much time. So the Etsy shop has been an experiment of will people buy art, and what are people willing to pay for fiber art. Because a lot of times it's on a smaller scale. And people have, in my experience been a little more unwilling to pay more substantial amounts of money for say, a four inch piece. But then I look at paintings. And I'm like, but they're charging triple what I'm charging for a tiny little painting. This is this is like an existential crisis that I'm going through almost daily with my age. It picks up around the holidays. But mostly, it's just when people see the perfect piece, they get it. And sometimes it'll go quite some time without getting any real traction.
Derek Smith 12:40
Has it been a learning curve for your audience to get used to looking at embroidery as fine art because I I'm very lucky, I was in New York at the time when all of this started to spike again. And I got to see all of the yarn bombs that you know, they would do outside. And it was just this beautiful movement of fiber arts and it's spreading. And it's been spreading for a little while now. And it's picking up. And I feel like it's starting to be taken very seriously, which is exciting. Because this is incredible medium. Has it been a learning curve in Mississippi to kind of teach clients?
Unknown Speaker 13:18
I think so I think in the fine art capital A art world, people see the value in fiber art, they do. But for most regular people 98% of the population, it's still mostly just a hobby craft to them. It's something that grandparents did, it is almost exclusively a feminine project. And it is not something that would be considered high art or fine art to most people. Which is why the pricing has been very difficult. The good news is is that the abstract embroidery kind of community on Instagram specifically has been so helpful. It has been incredibly helpful. It's been encouraging. And it's also helped me kind of test the temperature of like, what pricing can look like. Pricing maybe should look like in very rare instances when I see people price their work at what they actually feel like it's worth. And mostly it's just a place where people encourage each other. So they may be like me where they live in Mississippi that doesn't necessarily have an appreciation of fiber art as fine art. But they have this community that they can go to online and get validation and basically be like what you're doing is art. And it's good. Even if you're not really getting any traction on the ground where you actually live. The good news is I live in Water Valley, Mississippi, which has a thriving fiber arts community. So in the very specific place where I live, I feel like it is highly valued, which is such a blessing. I live in the same town as like Megan Patton and Coulter Fussel, Catherine Montague, all of them. You know, great quilters, art quilters. They're doing badass stuff that makes me feel intimidated and proud and so happy to be just like, around these people. So I'm lucky to live where I live, all things considered.
Derek Smith 15:30
Yeah, yeah, definitely. Well Mississippi also provides a great opportunity and not having to spend all of your money on rent.
Hannah Hester 15:39
Yeah, yes it does.
Derek Smith 15:41
You can make a living on some art, at least make something that makes a difference in your life on your art here. Where as a lot of other places, it's hard. You know, the cost of living so expensive.
Hannah Hester 15:55
It could not have been even kind of sustainable and Jersey City. That corporate job was necessary and required for us to put food in our mouths up there.
Derek Smith 16:06
Now you're working with the Treehouse gallery? Correct. in Oxford.
Unknown Speaker 16:11
Yeah, so I'm a gallery manager at the Oxford Tree House gallery is my day job as it were. So I work with Vivian and Walter Neal, who are the owners. Walter is a blacksmith Vivian is a painter, and they have a real passion for not just showing Mississippi art, but really supporting the artists, I think it helps that they themselves are artists. And they what I love about the gallery, is the thing I'm most proud of is that they are transparent about pricing. I know that I keep talking about money, but it matters. It really matters. It matters to the artist, and it matters to the patrons. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to a gallery page loved a piece of art. And then it says price available upon request. And then I just leave I leave the page because I'm like, I neither have the inclination or the time and I'm such an extreme introvert that I'm not going to call a stranger to ask what is probably too expensive piece of art. Not too expensive, because it's not worth it, but I can't afford it. And so what I love about the Treehouse gallery is that we have all of our prices listed. And people and that may seem gauche to the art world, it may seem you know, it's very much not the norm. Even on our Instagram posts, when we post new pieces, we post the price. And the cool thing is is that the gallery we have a pretty wide range of prices, we have stuff from under $100 to you know, several $1,000 Depending on the artist or the size of the work or the medium. In I wish more people knew about it because to me it is the most accessible art space that I have been to that actually sells art, I'm really proud to be a part of something that is so outside the box in regards to that art world. I'm very new to that world. But I can already tell that it's a little bit of a unicorn in that sense.
Derek Smith 18:15
what really is the you know, in more and more is being released every year. Last year, we had more interviews and more books about gallerist and how they've run everything in the past. And I'll give another podcast a plug right now. There's a podcast I listen to called Dr. Great art. And he does these brief little histories of art. He has a unique and unique take on everything. And I just I really liked listening to him. But he brought it up I think best when he launched the podcast again this year, he said this is we've got to get use. And we've got to take a hold of the new normal. And part of the old normal was that price hiding. And it was a tool because if the gallerist if you weren't prestigious enough to own their painting, if they couldn't drop your name to sell other artwork, they would jack up that price to where you wouldn't even come to afford it. Now if somebody would there the right name, you know somebody that's going to get more of their painting sold, they would even drop the price below value in order to get it into their collections. So they could say it's it's, I get the big manipulation game, but at the same time you have screwed over general public and actually being able to enjoy and appreciate the value of real living artists. It's you're just you're screwing everybody. So stop it. But what you're doing is exactly right. It's transparency and it's a customer knowing that they're not going to get screwed because the next customer behind them has a bigger wallet.
Unknown Speaker 19:50
Exactly. And another thing I really like about this gallery is that we don't stick with a specific kind of art. So the art that we carry is what speaks to us. So we have got landscapes, we have got figurative stuff, we've got abstract stuff. And it may feel a little like all over the place when you walk in. But we're very intentional about making sure that we're sticking staying more true to the kind of art that we're interested in and staying true to, you know, a statement of what we think a gallery should be like in the kind of an art and a gallery should carry, which I feel like is Mississippi at its finest, because Mississippi has just been making all of this secret, awesome art for all of history that is all over the place in terms of style. And I feel like galleries in Mississippi should represent how varied and diverse it is. And I feel like we we're already like that, and we're even trying to become more like that maybe become even a little more eclectic, a little more diverse, to really represent how, how awesome art, how awesome and different and weird art here can be. It's been really cool.
Derek Smith 21:07
So just to jump back to your personal work, what are you working on now.
Hannah Hester 21:12
So right now I am I have several pieces that I'm working on, I always have about three to five pieces that I can pick up at any given time, I just finished a piece last night. And I always and when I do that was a piece that took me a long time to work on. Instead of picking up one of the pieces that I'm halfway through, whenever I finish a new piece, I start an up. So right now I'm working on several different things. I'm particularly partial to one that I'm doing right now on a pair of old blue jeans, a pair of pair my favorite jeans got a hole right in the booty, so I had to say goodbye to them. And so there turns out this particular denim is so easy to stitch on and it's great like black color. So I got a bunch of polymer clay and I molded all of these weird little cones, and some stitching the cones down on to this mile blue jeans. And I'm having a blast. And each piece is so different. I've got a piece that looks like a unicorn pooped on it, I've got a piece it's like all black and peach. I've got a piece right now that I just started that's like this deep forest green with these bright white shells on it. I do not have a style yet, like an artistic style. And that is very apparent in my work. I'm absolutely still just in the planning phase. I mean, I hope you I hope I never leave the playing phase. But right now you could probably put three my pieces side by side not know that the same artists made three.
Derek Smith 22:47
That's part of the finding yourself and finding what you care about what you love. You're, you're they're so interesting and pretty. I really do I enjoy every single one of them that I look at and for all different reasons. Because you're the color palettes that you play with. I'm glad you said that they're inspired by moments of nature because they did a wildly job. There'll be one couple of salt pieces. And then all of a sudden there's this huge, vibrant red. And then there's these muted greens with I think one had this beautiful like orange stone kind of nuts nestled in the middle of all these little loops, because they're very interesting. And I like something that says small that you can look at for a while. Thank you
Hannah Hester 23:35
have fun doing that. And I also have a lot of fun working with like any kind of semi precious material. There's a beach shop in New Orleans. It's literally just called beach shop. It's on magazine Street. And when I walked past it the first time I was like on Mardi Gras beads or whatever and I walked in and it is a pirate's treasure trove of freshwater pearls and Malikai right and like all of that stuff. It's just packed floor to ceiling. And I'm sure it's mostly used by jewelry makers, but I was buying these huge strands of coral and pearls and I'm stitching them into my work I have so much fun playing with like, kind of gym and mineral specimens enter kind of played in with the fiber. It's I'm having a blast, man. I really am.
Derek Smith 24:22
I'm enjoying getting to watch you for anybody that wants to to follow along with Hannah. She's on Instagram at h HESTA designs. It's h h ESTRDISIGN s and then you can find her Etsy link on that and go and support her and buy a couple of pieces of her work for anybody that is coming behind you as an artist or a creative or somebody that's wanting to explore or maybe you as a younger self, you know your creative self with the video camera. What would be some advice that you would give for yourself
Hannah Hester 25:00
It's really easy to be intimidated by the art world, the capital A art world. And to that I say, Screw it screw up, just do whatever makes you happy, and play. And playing for the past two years in this particular medium has brought me more joy, especially through some pretty dark times, I would have been able to find solace and peace in this activity that I was previously unable to find in any other way. And it was because I was just letting myself have fun. And the cool thing about this particular era, and fiberarts is that it's kind of like anarchy, you can do whatever you want, anything that you can stitch down a piece of fabric that will thread will hold works. And so there's absolutely no limitations. And because this has been previously viewed as a hobby craft, or just a feminine thing, there's no towering giants really to measure yourself against. I mean, there are obviously I could give you a list, but they're not household names. So there's a real freedom to be incredibly creative in this Art Forum without the threat of comparison. And so I would just say, anarchy, aren't anarchy, do whatever makes you happy. And that's that really
Derek Smith 26:25
well, and is there anywhere else that people can find you?
Hannah Hester 26:29
Not really, no. Don't have a very fancy website yet. If you're interested in Mississippi, art Mississippi artists or regional art artists, please give the Oxford Tree House gallery a follow. We're always trying to showcase some regional and local artists. And it's a good place to learn more about the really badass people that are creating cool stuff in this area.
Derek Smith 26:56
Well, thank you so much for giving us your time and your story and talking to us about what you're doing and how you're exploring creative arts and fiber arts here in Mississippi. I I appreciate the sheer amount of diversity in art that Mississippi has to offer and you're a part of it. And that's exciting. Thank you so much for being with us.
Hannah Hester 27:18
Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Derek Smith 27:20
For anyone who's listening check out the little yellow building calm you can follow Hannah Hester designs our HHESTA designs on Instagram. But we'll have another artist for you next week by a special thank you to the Friends of the little yellow building. Beth Breeland, Jenny Moak, Jennifer Drinkwater, Mary Hardy, Evelyn Peavy, the Smith family, Gwen Furey, the Evans Family, Mary Adams, Janet Smith, Jenny Howard and Buffie Jordan. Thank you for all the support
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
The Little Yellow Building is the creative art studio of Mississippi artist Derek Covington Smith. TLYB was established in 2018 to help grow and promote visual art in the state through opportunity, exposure, and education.