“Specific to my creative work, I find the process of creating, especially drawing and painting helps me to slow down, check in with myself and quiet my mind. Before I work on more in-depth pieces, I find it helpful to set an intention and doodle around the intention to sit with it. These intentions range from feeling gratitude to aspects I hope to work on, such as trusting intuition or being gentle or actively listening.”
Read on to learn more about what inspires Hannah and her advice to fellow yogis and artists.
Tell me about your work. What inspires you?
My work draws on my imagination, dreams, music, nature, playful stories, inspiring people and the day to day life of the DMV. I am also inspired by community and my Palestinian, Lebanese and Irish cultures. I continue to explore themes of healing from systemic violence and intergenerational trauma, intergenerational knowledge, the lessons of the natural world, how to reimagine loving in ways that are genuinely nourishing, migration, communication across/the transcendence of borders and boundaries, life/death…there’s so much to learn and work with.
What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects? How has living in DC with COVID precautions affected your work?
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot more personal growth/inner work, which has helped me to recenter and reimagine what I want to create. Visual-arts-wise, I am working on a few new series of mixed media paintings, pieces in the outside world and illustrations around these themes: Painting the Living, Transcending Borders/Boundaries, Alchemy of the Heavy Into Transformative Futures.
I’m curious about the mind-body connection and your work. When you’re in the creative process how do you relate to your body and breath? If you do yoga or other holistic movement practice, how does it affect your creative process?
Full disclosure, prior to this interview I hadn’t really done the asana limb of yoga. But before I meditated, I love to light incense and a handmade candle and dance or go for a walk. I do have spiritual practices and I’ve been working on reconnecting with my body and breath for awhile, but I have a lot to learn about yoga. Since learning more, I’ve grown to appreciate yoga’s depth and how helpful it can be.
Specific to my creative work, I find the process of creating, especially drawing and painting helps me to slow down, check in with myself and quiet my mind. Before I work on more in-depth pieces, I find it helpful to set an intention and doodle around the intention to sit with it. These intentions range from feeling gratitude to aspects I hope to work on, such as trusting intuition or being gentle or actively listening. I guess it is kind of like how musicians warm up or people ease into their practice of yoga. Slowing down, I begin to feel connected to my body and tap into a creative flow.
Do you have any advice for DC yoga practitioners on how to increase their artistic creativity and/or engage with the arts in DC? Do you have any advice for DC artists on the value of connecting with their body and breath?
How alive do you feel? Do you feel like you are going through the motions or finding small ways to live fully; connected; engaged? These are questions I ask myself and part of what sustains my creativity – it helps me feel alive and seeps into every aspect of life. In terms of engaging with our creativity, I think it is helpful to look at kids and how effortlessly they will start creating with few inhibitions. And they don’t need art supplies – I’ll never forget I once saw these two kids playing in a puddle for over an hour. They found different ways to run around it, splash in it, jump over it, and so on.
At some age, we get schooled and disconnected from this. What were you like as a kid? In what ways were you creative and what did it feel like to play? What do you have to lose by being more creative? If you get preoccupied with perfection, what and who does that serve? What does it feel like when you start to let go, to listen, to observe more closely, to trust and embrace the process?
If I were able to follow you around to see art in DC, which places would we go? What would we see?
I am grateful that these resources like libraries and museums are public and I used to frequent these. As I’ve grown older, while I still love museums, I’ve gravitated more towards the work of living artists [see next question] as well as witnessing the art in the everyday. To me, the art scene is largely in how people live their lives with creativity and care for each other. There are many spots I enjoy seeing art, dancing and listening to music/poetry in the DMV – here are a few – I hope you enjoy. PS. To fully make the most of our visits together, we would be equipped with sketchbooks/journals and some snacks:
–Drum Circle at Malcolm X Park
–Bossa or Lucky Bar for live music and dancing
–Rock Creek Park and the Arboretum for the art of the natural world
–2nd Story Books Warehouse (in Rockville) and Bob’s Shanghai afterwards
–Bawadi (in VA for delicious food)
–Any events organized by the 411 Collective, the Omi Collective, Current Movements, Sitar Arts Center, Edgewood Arts, Words Beats and Life, Swap DC
–Outside art pieces throughout the city – we could spend time looking up closely and then far away. One of my favorites is the Resurrection mural by Aniekan which has mirrors embedded in the constellation that add the magic of witnessing it in person.
–Songbyrd, Comet Ping Pong, Jojo’s, Rhizome DC, Busboys, or countless other spots for live music/open mics
Who are some of the DC artists you enjoy?
There are so many and I am missing a bunch but, if you don’t already, follow all of the local artists below and enrich your life!
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