Hannah Spector is a good kid who makes a bad grown-up. Her artwork is hypnotic, in no short part due to its playful colorful and shapes. It ignites flickers of memories that only appear before they hurl you into a dream.
(Note: This interview was recorded a few days after A Place Gallery, a DIY art venue by Time Waste Management, closed.)
Andy Andrade: I think the first time I became interested in your work when you held an exhibition titled Moments, Moments, Momentum with Orlando-based artist Jacob Bailes at A Place Gallery.
Hannah Spector: Yeah I was really happy with that show, I love working with Jacob. His ethic is planned and methodical. When he approaches a work he’s precise and knows what he’s going to do, which I admire. When I do something, I don’t know when it’s done until it’s done. I make him loosen up and he makes me tighten up. We provide the pops of color that the other needs. We share the same aesthetics. He’s my favorite collaborator.
Andy Andrade: Are you from here?
Hannah Spector: Yes, but I’ve lived in DC for five years and some other places, France for eight months and Thailand for 3 months; by the Burmese border.
Andy Andrade: Was it a humanitarian effort?
Hannah Spector: Yeah, I was teaching art/music an English language to kids. Most of their parents were still in Burma, so they’d come here after school. It was a community center kind of deal.
Andy Andrade: How old were you when you did this?
Hannah Spector: I was a sophomore in college.
Andy Andrade: So you’re a yoga teacher, a musician, a poet, an artist, a humanitarian … what else am I missing here?
Hannah Spector: *pause* I think I’m pretty good at dancing.
Andy Andrade: Who inspired you to become an artist?
Hannah Spector: I think it was more of a slow building process. I was just good at art. I won the Winter Park Sidewalk Festival when I was in kindergarten. But I think it all started when I learned how to write. I would carry a little Hello Kitty notebook around my neck and only talk to people by writing what I was thinking or needed.
Andy Andrade: How do you feel about the art scene in Orlando, given that we now have lost another DIY space?
Hannah Spector: It’s really sad. They had just made me a curator. There was a lot of people who would have helped out but just couldn’t.
Andy Andrade: That whole part of town is being heavily gentrified, what do you think the next move is for DIY spaces and culture in Orlando?
Hannah Spector: It’s going to just start being in everyone’s houses. That’s what I would do in DC, I would just throw gatherings in my apartment building. Bad things are happening in the Milk District too — landlords trying to get money left and right. There’s not a lot of funding down here for youth-oriented art anyway. The members of the art board, they fund particular artists … old established flamingo painters. It’s all about what can be consumed, what can they sell, and what people want in their houses. No one is going to buy the cage that Jacob Bailes and I created for Moments, Moments, Momentum. They don’t support the youth. Those board members, they’re stuck on this line of “Oh, as a kid you do face paints and then as you get older all of that is irrelevant. You paint landscapes and get rich.” Somewhere I got mad in that process. This is not why I’m making art. I don’t just want it to sit in people’s homes.
Andy Andrade: When did you come to this conclusion?
Hannah Spector: I was meeting with a gallery’s board, and I kept meeting people that were in charge of their funding. It was a dinner and I started noticing how much they didn’t care about the artists, only about the wealth and profits that are coming from the work. I felt disturbed, kind of like in Fear and Loathing — when everyone was a lizard and laughing.
Andy Andrade: Do you usually represent yourself?
Hannah Spector: Yes. Always. So I can be unedited.
Andy Andrade: What made you move back from DC?
Hannah Spector: I Just liked it better down here.
Andy Andrade: Why?
Hannah Spector: The people. They’re genuine; they care. They’re more genuinely creative. It’s a friendly competition, a community.
Andy Andrade: Everyone knows each other too. You can ask someone if they know so-and-so and they’re bound to say, “Oh, I write for that person. I paint with that person. I make music with that person.”
Hannah Spector: I love that. I am happy to be here, in this moment.
Andy Andrade: So what’s your current style? Preferred medium?
Hannah Spector: Painting and screen printing. They’re two different parts of my practice. Screen printing, minimalist color theory and focusing on shape and color, that’s it. I have a catalog of shapes that I’m going to stop using so I can be progressive. Screen printing is meticulous. You have to be virulent about your hands being clean, watching for the paint to not dry. Then painting, it’s chaos. Sitting with globs of paint … there’s still love for color theory, but it’s an amorphous color theory. It all depends on what medium I want to use in my next piece. That’s been my goal over the last four years, master the mediums through intense study. So when I have an idea, I can use the software, printmaking, woodcutting, music, whatever I need to get the idea out. I want fluidity.
Andy Andrade: So if you had to pick, would you be a poet or a painter?
Hannah Spector: I really like the place I go with writing. If a voice asked me in the middle of the night, ”What must you do?” I would say, “I must write.” But it’s all part of the same feeling, I have to make things or I get upset.