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Meet Hannah Brimer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hannah Brimer.

Hannah, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My first artistic pursuit started with photography at the age of 16. Growing up my father encouraged me to take pause and really observe the simple beauty surrounding us everyday. These conversations made a profound impact on my artistic voice and how I wanted to capture the beauty in simplicity.

I attended Cal State University Long Beach (CSULB) where I studied art but with an emphasis in drawing and painting. Since graduating in the Fall of 2019, I have been developing a body of work addressing purity culture, religious trauma, and the MeToo movement. I discovered that utilizing storytelling throughout my work has served as a healing modality and I plan to continue that exploration for many years to come.

Has it been a smooth road?
I do not think I have ever truly been on a “smooth” road in life, but certainly one of the toughest roads I’ve traveled has been putting myself through college with little financial support. There was a time I worked three jobs while attending night classes in order to keep pursuing my dream. It took eight years of dedication to receive my degree, but it was worth every second of hardship and endless cups of coffee/ramen noodles.

Once I started making art on my experiences growing up as an evangelical Christian girl, I struggled to find the correct verbiage for the content of my work. The body of work was transforming as I dove deeper into my upbringing but obtaining language to support the work was extremely important to me.

Growing up in an Evangelical Christian household, I thought a lot of my beliefs and experiences were standard of any child. I attended a Christian private school in Washington, went to a Christian after-school program, and was heavily involved in church on the weekends. To say my family was fully submerged in the Christian faith would be the understatement of my life.

After I graduated high school, I took a large step back from my family’s traditional beliefs. I put my exploration of faith on pause because unpacking my own beliefs was too much weight to bear. In school I was making art addressing the Metoo movement and the correlation to how I felt silenced growing up by the religious standards of female purity.

My work started to place emphasis on psychological repression, which is a defense mechanism when one unconsciously pushes away painful/traumatic memories in order to lead a relatively normal life. However, despite its protective function, it can lead to anxiety, antisocial, or self-destructive behaviors.

While in my search to better verbalize some of the major themes of my work such as, psychological repression, trauma, and self-harm, I came across a podcast which finally gave the verbiage to an experience I thought was all my own.

In an interview on a Podcast called Religionless Church by Mason Mennenga, a woman named Jamie Lee Finch defines Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS), as, “[a] condition experienced by people who are struggling to leave an authoritarian or dogmatic religion, and coping with the fallout of the damage of indoctrination.” Finch further explores the correlation between Purity Culture/ RTS and the traumatic psychological effects it has on people who choose to step away from religion.

Now that I have obtained language for the themes my work addresses, I feel as though I can better address purity culture and the aftermath RTS has on women. I am continuing to investigate the repercussions of traumatic events and how they impact the present.

Please tell us more about your art.
In my work I like to use an isolated color palette and large emphasis on symbolism. I wish to draw the viewer in with beauty and have them leave with a somber/haunted feeling while exploring the works content. I regularly use nature, the nude female form, fruit, and birds as symbolic imagery to help digest larger topics. I typically work in the mediums of graphite, colored pencil, oil paint, and gouache. My style is very clean and crisp and mainly symbolic representational.

I am extremely proud of the dialogue that stems from the thematic topics of my work. I will continue creating work with the intention of using my art to address heavy topics within our society.

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