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Communicating the unseen

Interview with Hannah Freitag

1.      Please tell us something about your background and your art journey so far.

My background is all over the place, as I’d imagine a lot of artists’ are. It’s tough to excel in a creative field, and your career trajectory often doesn’t follow a straight path forward. For a long time, I tried to mesh my desire to pursue art with a more traditional type of career path, like working for an established business, or specializing in a more technical, common type of medium, and that had me jumping around from graphic design and printing, to teaching, to painting commissions. But none of it really satisfied me, and so I started to pursue a career of making the art I want to make and worrying about the practicality aspect later, and now, ironically, things are starting to click into place and I’m getting some movement forward on the career front.

2.      Can you tell us more about the theme in your art and your inspiration?

Currently I am working on creating a Tarot deck, but I am heavily inspired by other disciplines that, in my mind, serve the same purpose that Tarot does. To me, Tarot is a bridge between our tangible, material reality, and the unseen and unknowable aspects of life that run parallel to our conscious experiences. It can serve as a mirror to our subconscious, or a channel of contact to the intuitive, emotional realms within us. By using Archetypes to symbolize experiences that we all go through in our lives, we can tap into describing and communicating something that would otherwise be impossible to put into words. Other philosophies and disciplines that attempt to make sense of life through symbol and metaphor play a big role in my artwork as well, including Jungian Psychology, Western Astrology, Alchemy, and Gnosticism. My current project uses Tarot’s classical format, but borrows symbolism from many different areas of life and study. I do this to drive home exactly how commonplace and intrinsic the Archetypes that Tarot uses are. This is also why I use collage as my primary medium. By using found materials from a variety of times and places, I am practicing finding the thread that makes these archetypes timeless and constant, while simultaneously showcasing their ability to change and adapt based on specific circumstances. And, my hope is, helping others to train their eyes and begin to see all the ways the Universe is reflecting something back to us through the symbolism around us.

3.      How does your art life impact other parts of your life?

It impacts everything, whether I want it to or not. Mostly in good ways. I love being a creative person and imbuing that creative urge into everything I do. Beyond creating art pieces made for print or gallery walls, I also explore my creativity through decorating my home, styling my outfits, organizing my pantry, really any aspect of life has some room for creativity if you're looking for it. Even at my most leisurely, I’m playing video games that incorporate a significant creative element into their gameplay, or getting lost in the art that other people make. At the same time, it’s easy for me to become overwhelmed by all of the different facets of life I want to explore creatively, especially when coupled with the need for daily routines, rest, and financial and material security. As fulfilling as the creative life is on an emotional level, it’s been a struggle to balance out both my artistic drive and the very necessary practical realities of my day to day life. I have also spent a lot of my life suppressing my creativity, trying to stick to a more traditional career route, and ending up burnt out and dissatisfied. I’m starting to come out of that energy, but it has been a difficult road to fully accept that my career path isn’t going to be as straight, narrow, and easily defined as some of the people around me. In some ways, my life would be a lot easier without this inborn need to create, and yet, I love it, when it really comes down to it, I wouldn’t trade it for any other type of life.

4.      Could you share any difficulties and hardships you had to face in life and how or if you managed/overcame them?

 I’ve definitely had my fair share of struggle in this life so far, and in turn have already overcome a lot. I’ve had to do significant work on my mental health, including an extended period of time in treatment for a lifelong eating disorder, and a lot of unpacking trauma from emotionally abusive relationships in my past. It’s taught me how to be patient with myself and the process of healing, accept myself for who I am, and has also given me a lot of wisdom that I hope I can channel into my work as an artist. My goal is to help people who have also experienced trauma and mental illness to do the healing work that I have learned how to do. My personal journey with spirituality has also played a huge part here, and my connection to a higher, wiser power with a bird’s eye view on my situation has been a major factor in my healing so far. In my art, I try to combine both the psychological and spiritual, making connections between the two and attempting to make concepts I’ve only been able to access through therapy and deep introspection more readily available. I am still healing, and in some ways I think it’s going to be a lifelong process, but it has set me up to be a beacon of hope for others, and for that, I am grateful for my experiences.

5.      What practical advice can you give to fellow artists?

This is something that I need to tell myself on a daily basis; let it take time. You are not going to create something magical if you are forcing yourself to create. I’ve learned the lesson by now that making your art a chore leads to nothing but resentment and exhaustion. I understand the immense pressure that is placed on every single one of us to be as productive and profitable as possible, but this competitive, capitalistic rhetoric is poison to the artist. Your creative process needs time to rest, ideate and reflect as much as it needs time for active, hands-on application.

6.      What are you working on at the moment and are there any upcoming events you would like to talk about?

I am working on completing a Tarot deck! Some of the pieces that will be included are here in this article, and I am updating social media whenever a new one is added to my collection. I am pretty early on in the process, with about 30 out of 78 cards completed, so if you are interested in my deck, you can follow along for more information about what the printing and distribution process is going to look like in the long term. In the meantime, I also write personal essays, record meditations, and curate playlists related to the symbolism of Tarot on my website. Because I believe that the archetypes of Tarot are intertwined into every aspect of our daily lives, my work extends beyond just creating my physical artwork, and explores many different mediums that can help us to reflect on the role these symbols play in our day to day lives. If you’d like more information about my work please check out my website! There are also links to and information about exhibits and events that I am currently a part of if you look under the Features tab.

IG:  @mythic.mashup


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