Today we’d like to introduce you to Hannah Pierce.
Hannah, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a Ceramic and Mixed Media Artist currently making work in Philadelphia, PA. I was born and raised in San Diego, CA, where I frequently visit. I received my BA in Studio Art at Humboldt State University of CA and my MFA in Ceramics at Edinboro University of PA. In between programs, I worked as an educator for people with developmental disabilities at The Studio and Cheri Blackerby Gallery, located in Eureka, CA. After graduate school, I was awarded the Abilities Fellowship Artist Residency at Baltimore Clayworks, where I focused on teaching overlooked communities and building the Community Arts program. I have always gravitated towards teaching people who need the creative outlet the most, where making can become a critical source of therapy. My own studio practice has always been a place to pour my most complicated feelings and darkest thoughts without using words or confronting them in a practical, straightforward manner. I can just let them exist in a surreal, yet genuine form.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I don’t think any artists have had a smooth road unless you have had undoubtable confidence and all the right connections. I wouldn’t describe my journey as smooth. This past year and a half following graduation has been especially difficult. Various moves, a tremendous amount of personal obstacles, and a hefty sum of rejections have greatly tested me, forcing me to push harder. Throughout all the madness, I have also met wonderful people, seen amazing new places, and found great opportunities.
I have accepted that I will always be unsatisfied with my work, constantly seeing how it could be more visually impressive or interesting. As long as it is not hurting my productivity, I welcome this self-criticism in order to constantly change and improve. I think one of my biggest challenges is the medium I work within. Unfortunately, ceramics has a lengthy history of being less respected and priced cheaper than other forms of sculpture. As a ceramic sculptor, I am not a potter nor a typical painter. I am a painter that sculpts their canvas and it is a very niche market. I think it is an outdated approach to focus on the material more than the visuals and concepts an artist is conveying. However, I do think the stigma towards ceramics and other crafts is changing and you will probably see more and more.
What are you known for? What are you proud of?
I am known for my narrative ceramic sculptures that blend fully sculpted elements with illustrative 2-dimensional features. They are unusual pieces with their exaggerated perspectives and deceptive qualities, depicting absurd characters, and urban structures. My work is fueled by dark narratives and themes pertaining to escapism, trauma, a lack of control and a general overtone of human struggle. I enjoy contrasting this with bright pops of color, figure distortion, and playful references like lollipops, balloons, and rubber duckies. I am proudest of how thoughtful my pieces are designed and executed. I am always thinking of new ways to approach the work and install it, putting a great deal of love and effort into every piece. Sometimes it is fun and sometimes it is a giant headache, but I’ll never skip a step of my subjectively ridiculous process.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
In my field, I think the most successful artists are the ones that never give up their vision. I think there is an incredible amount of work out there that takes longer to accumulate an audience. The people that never stop working towards the recognition they deserve truly impress me. As well as the artists that are always developing their work and redefining themselves as they grow and change. Even if an artist needs to work multiple part-time jobs or focus much of their energy on teaching, if they are making a solid body of work and actively exhibiting, I think the effort and relentlessness is successful.
- Sculptural Cups $100-200
- Small Scale Sculptures $200-800
- Medium/ Large sculptures $800-4,000
- Website: hannahmpierce.com
- Phone: (619) 318-8141
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @hannah.ceramics
- Other: https://boxheartgallery.com/art-artists/all-exhibiting-artists/hannah-pierce/
Photo of Artist Photo credit: Gab Bonghi; Photo of Artwork Photo credit: Artist