Linda Seebauer Hansen

What We Don’t Talk About: Review

Linda Seebauer Hansen

In November 2017, seven artists presented works at the Hudson Hospital & Clinic Healing Arts Exhibition.  I was one of the artists along with Katie Beumer, Zulma Davila, Anne Kramer, Laura Mayo, Ann Meany and Judith Sarah Rae.  

Each artist autonomously addressed the exhibition theme “What We Don’t Talk About.”  Recently, I re-read our initial gallery proposal, which revealed several commonalities associated with human dynamics, conversations, connections or sensibilities.  As the seven of us discussed this exhibit topic one goal that unconsciously came to the surface was encouraging viewers to be reflective and perhaps feel a bit uncomfortable.  I have to admit that while sitting in our group planning gatherings and observing everyones enthusiasm and excitement for the topic, I felt very challenged and here’s why.

Intellectually, as a seasoned visual artist, I understand that fear and ambiguity often leads to creativity.  Yet, I was uncharacteristically stifled and internally struggling with the topic. My difficulties began when I thought about the serious community endeavor for the seven of us resulting in a public component - an exhibition, and I am used to working solo.  Secondly, I had no ideas.  Eighteen months out from the opening gallery date I had nothing.  One year out, still no place to start.  And the months slowly disappeared inching into a level of timing that felt too close for me with getting out ahead of a major time commitment.  As an artist, my training is in the fine crafts.  I respond to making objects and love a textural and dimensional design challenge.  So, not unlike how we were asking our audience to react, I was feeling uncomfortable.  Lastly, in 2016-2017 the world had so much happening I found myself utterly distracted.  I also laid undo-burden on myself feeling personal pressure to respond.  Like a well-trained visual artist ready to do her job, I felt the need to step up and give the world a consoling bomb or tough-stance perspective piece to temporarily control the constant ailing sickness in pit of my stomach.  Too much pressure indeed, but then I remembered the phrase, “the personal is political.’  Artists have been using this strategy for centuries.  Next, I started with the thought, “I am right here.”

My newly formed preface gave me somewhere to go.  Throughout my whole life I have had experiences, human experiences.  These experiences motivated me to think about origins and the physiological components that makes us who we are.  I also wanted to evoke a sense of transparency or lay the foundation for a pillar of vulnerability, which resulted in working with plexiglas.  Plexiglas is a material that enables one to see through, the perfect metaphor for how to construct and present my works for the exhibition.

My reflection and choice of materials, plus now, with the exhibition clock ticking, coalesced into the creation of two candid books with outlines of humans on this clear material.  The engraved contour, multi-line figures are generic physical bodies surrounded by text.  These pieces, “SAME, different, Equal” and “You Never Asked” teeter on personal and social by capturing a voice.  They also delineate individuality by not labeling and lending solace to however you wish to identify.

As another decade goes by I am more conscious of my responsibility to raise an eye toward the issue of womanhood or sibling-hood, and what females experience as they move through their lives.   A third piece, “Hook, Line and Sinker,” which also employs plexiglas, emerged from thinking about generational characteristics and influences.  Three black objects representative of chess game pieces wield metal lures or defensive tools while holding a powerful stance over a melody of text in a storyline mantra of ‘She believed …’  The repetition and reflective nature of these statements are similar to the internal dialogue of what women might tell themselves.  As the words form a rhythmic cantor a final beat concludes with ‘She believed because nobody told her otherwise.’ Culturally, with this work I want people to feel brave through questioning or listening, or more importantly consider how to take action.  Even a small action or simply asking a question or acknowledging you notice something in another can be freeing for both individuals involved, which ultimately ensures not feeling alone.