We had the good fortune of connecting with Hannah Blair Akins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hannah Blair, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I have always understood art to be something, if not the only thing, that held innate and substantial meaning, in the same way that many understand religion. My pencil became a cherished and intimate friend when I realized it was a channel between the mind and the physical reality – the eternal soul and the body – between which laid a gap I desperately wished to bridge. I’ve finally found that, for me, to be an artist is to be a dying, languageless infant, having been alive for just long enough to know what she’d be missing when she left, grasping for the words and the physical ability to say “thank you,” “I love you,” and “goodbye.” Art, for me, is the practice of radical acceptance and celebration of every part of life in its entirety; a celebration of life itself. Having chosen an artistic life path is my way of thanking the universe, my loved ones, and humanity by way of living intentionally, trying to appreciate and learn from each moment, and constructing as best I can some kind of visceral but tangible, creations as an attempt to express the inarticulable love and fear and awe of life.Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a filmmaker and multimedia artist, so I like to use many different mediums, including both visual and aural elements such as paint, collage, film, fabric, language, music, and sound design. The main purpose of my work is to find and celebrate life’s many meanings, and to forge meaningful connections between ourselves and other people, ideas, and experiences. For me, the artistic process is inseparable from the healing process. Halfway through my time attending film school, I lost my older sister to suicide, and found it very difficult to get through each day. In order to be functional and productive in a meaningful way in the wake of that grief and shock, I needed to dedicate myself entirely to maintaining my own mental wellbeing; but I also needed to graduate, and finish the projects I came to school to create. This led to melding my creations with my healing, as it was really the only way to fit them both in my life. Now it’s what I’ve decided to dedicate the rest of my time too, because I think it helps other people heal, too.If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If times were different and a friend were visiting Arizona, I would probably take them to downtown Phoenix and go to a show at the Crescent Ballroom, where I’ve seen a lot of my favorite artists perform. There are a lot of really great places to get drinks too, like Helton if you want great beer or Little Rituals if you want a fancy cocktail.Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It’s without a doubt that who I am now is but a product of the people who I’ve known and loved. My inclination toward the arts was supplemented by the presence of artistic mentors within my family; my father and my paternal grandparents are artists – my grandmother is an art historian and professional costume designer, my grandfather was a Professor of Theater, and my father is a painter and potter. They’ve each inspired me with their intelligence and visions since I was a child, and their appreciation for art, film, culture, language, philosophy, and poetry was quickly instilled in me. I was fascinated by their love for the dark, the strange, the morbid, the debauched, and realized that in studying, observing, portraying, and celebrating darkness as a necessary, unavoidable, and natural part of life, there lies a power which helps alleviate some of the pain and terror it causes. I also have my peers in the local artistic community to thank for their inspiration, friendship, and encouragement. There are so many things I never would have been able to make without their selfless help and collaboration.
Hannah Sweet, Andre Carr, Aaron Lochert, Alejandro Olmedo and Emily Akins