A Conversation with Hannah Einhorn: Homemaking and the Creation of Nest

Published March 29th 2024
By Bridget Curtis

Hannah Einhorn Pictured in front of her piece “I Will Never Tell You”, 2024

Hannah Einhhorn’s exhibition, Nest, opens March 30th at the State Gallery in Nashville, Tennessee. As a resident of The State Gallery and Studios program, Hannah had been awarded a studio space as well as the opportunity to exhibit her work. Leading up to the opening reception, I was able to visit Hannah in her studio to discuss her creative process. Her work is characterized by her creative use of media, combining her masterful ceramic practice with her mixed media collage work. She employs the use of sentimental elements: collage taken from a playboy magazine, pieces of a vintage doily, collections of items from a previous era. Woven within these more humorous elements there is a deeply self reflective and intelligent narrative created within her work. Within this narrative, she is addressing the idea of home and what it means to create a space for one’s self.

Bridget Curtis (B.C.) :So Hannah, you have an upcoming show at the state gallery, can you begin our interview by talking about your starting point for creating this body of work?

Hannah Einhorn (H.E.) :Yes, I think that the starting point for me was the body of work I made in college. As a recent graduate, I started exploring ideas about neurodivergence, safety, vigilance, gender, and queerness in the context of the home as well as the question of what purpose the home can serve. When I was in college, I began that research and I've been able to develop it into a much broader body of work.

B.C. :I can begin to notice some of those themes in the title of your show. Can you talk about your process of naming your show and how it relates to your idea of the home?

H.E. :The name of the show is Nest, like that of a bird or an animal. I like the symbolism of what a nest can evoke. I view my home as having many purposes, for example I view it as my safe space, much like everybody else. I view it as a place I can bring friends to and develop a community. In contrast, I also view it as a fort, a place of fortitude, solitude, and safety. That really embodies what a nest can be. A nest is a place that life can grow within, where you are protected from the outside. I also think about how nests are made from materials like trash, twigs, and dead plants. That is relevant in my work as I pull from a lot of reused materials, vintage materials such as old playboy magazines, old life magazines, beads that I attach onto my work. I am a collector in that way.

Crunch, Mixed media on cardboard and ceramic, 2023-2024

B.C. : So you seem to have a fascination with these unconventional materials, particularly your utilization of organic materials. Can you talk about what inspires these explorations more in depth?

H.E. :I think that is where my creativity comes out. It's so easy to imagine an image or piece of art as a stretched rectangle around stretcher bars. I'd like to get out of that box. Instead of creating trash and adding to the world's waste system, I like to reuse the things that are meaningful to me. I am very sentimental, and so instead of feeling like a hoarder, I can feel like an artist about my sentimentality. I also enjoy spying on things that other people are sentimental about, which drives my interest in collecting objects that don't come from my own home like lace, thread, beads, and fabrics.

First Daughter, Mixed media on ceramic and collaged paper, 2024

B.C. :Is there a particular work in this show that you resonate with the most?

H.E. :My piece, First Daughter, is really representative of how my brain works. I've been examining how patterns and pattern making is important to me. There is something about plaid that is very infinite. There are infinite combinations of colors and striped patterns that create plaid, but it's also very predictable. That dichotomy is something I feel the owner of the nest in this show wants, thrives for, and tries to cultivate. I kept a locket of my hair from when I shaved my head, which I used in this piece. My favorite thing about using this is how within this artwork I was able to preserve this one curl.

Detail Shot: First Daughter, Mixed media on ceramic and collaged paper, 2024

B.C. :So you talk about the idea of the owner of the nest as a figure separate from yourself, isthat how you view this show, or are you creating your own nest?

H.E. :I definitely view it as creating my own nest, while still maintaining an aspect of character development. The person or thing creating this nest is me, but it acts more as a representation of homemakers in all senses of the word. It is very personal. A lot of the choices I've made are based on how I would want my own home to be.

B.C. :Can you tell me more about what concepts you were researching during this process of creating this work for the State Gallery?

H.E. :I enjoy reading a lot. I've been reading Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and its Metaphors by Susan Sontag. Something that I touch on in this body of work is tiredness, fatigue, and an aspect of disability that I put into this show. Sontag talks about how within society outside of the home, within the world we inhabit outside of our nests, illness is often weaponized and villainized. She uses military speech to talk about how the world views illness and disability, and notes how we often say we “fight” mental or physical illness when in reality those are things to be accommodated and adjusted to. She talks about internalizing this feeling that you have a perpetrator inside of you, and how that can detriment oneself.

I Will Never Tell You, Mixed media on canvas, 2024

B.C. :With your work you've developed a very specific visual language. Were you referencing any artists you look up to?

H.E. :I am definitely referencing. I think all artists are referencing, even the artists that say they aren't. I am referencing artists, but I am also referencing culture. One artist that has really impacted me is Wangechi Mutu. Her collage skill is unmatched, the way she represents femininity, the embodiment of the self and grotesqueness. There is a narrative quality to some of her work that I really appreciate. As far as culture, I feel like I reference the Arts and Crafts movement with my thinking about plaid, thinking about reusing, thinking about cutting and pasting. Creating these patterns that could go on wallpaper, pillow, ect, really can be an embodiment of what it means to create space.

B.C. :Regarding the idea of the grotesque, I've seen that in some of your work you are using bugs and other organic materials, can you speak on your relationship to grotesque matter and forms?

H.E. :My own relationship to the grotesque is confusing even to myself. I've always enjoyed watching people squirm, and even making myself squirm. I believe it comes from the current me addressing my inner child. As a kid I was so curious, but also a restrained child. I didn't burn ants with a magnifying glass like other kids. Now that I'm an adult and have a nest, I can let my mind become experimental. For example, what happens when you take ants that have been sprayed by an exterminator and make them into a glaze? Can I preserve my curls two years after cutting my hair? I also believe it comes from dreams. Dreams have always been a bit of a plague to me, and that is where a lot of grotesqueness comes from. It's a way of addressing and embracing that.

B.C :Thank you so much Hannah for speaking with me today.

Hannah Einhorn’s exhibition Nest opens on Saturday, March 30th at the State Gallery in Nashville, TN.

Bridget Curtis is a Nashville native who graduated from Belmont University with a Bachelors of Arts in Art History. Along with Art History she studied Chinese and Painting, both practices she considers to be tools to inform her studies of modern and contemporary art. During her time at college she emphasized research of feminist philosophy and the theory of abjection with the study of those movements.