The creation of textiles of all forms has been a hallmark of female creation for ages. Before her transition to fabric, local artist Hannah Altman got her start with self-portraits during her teenage years. Taking photos of herself allowed her to capture a mindset, mood and memory in its raw state – unaltered and truly telling of who she was at that moment.
Using fabric as a medium for her self-portraiture was a natural step for Hannah. When she first began transforming her photos into textile pieces, she experimented with a variety of different textures. She first tried sewing her photos onto fabrics, and learned that she enjoyed the malleability and new life this method breathed into her images. She next tried shoving silk through a printer on a whim. To her surprise, this method worked, and her concept was born. She evolved to the practice of dye-sublimation, which embeds the dye of the photo into the fibers of the fabric, thus integrating her work into the core of the material. She wants the works in this collection to consume the space of objects as they already exist, without altering the construction of the item itself.
The “Construct of Viewpoint” body of work magnifies the artist as the subject, in a way that makes her impossible to ignore. Feminism influenced Hannah’s deep-dive into her exploration of self through the pivotal decision to view a woman’s body as she wishes – desexualizing her as an object and giving her the power to use her body as her own vessel at her own discretion.
As Hannah expands her collection to utilize domestic objects, she admires the kinetic energy of these objects. They have an inherent purpose and invite the viewer to imagine utilizing them as a practical item. She began using textiles as a canvas to pay homage to the women who came before her, crafting textiles to express themselves. These women were often overlooked as artists in their own right. The pieces in “Construct of Viewpoint” are overwhelming with her presence. The viewer cannot avoid being aware of the minute details of her physical being, forcing them to acknowledge the artist as the creator of her work.
Although the pictured robes are fine art pieces rather than garments meant to be sold and worn, they take the shape of anyone who adorns them. Katie Krulock captured the special moments of Hannah trying on her robes for the first time. Hannah’s pieces quite literally demonstrate the power, beauty and artistic prowess of specialized pieces. Although quite different from the painted pieces Sadie Shoaf creates in the shop, both women use their perspective to bring to life one-of-a-kind pieces that share a piece of them with their admirers.
Hannah has three solo exhibitions for “Construct of Viewpoint” coming up in the next six months in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles. Be sure to check out her beautiful work in person.