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Hannah Kate Kelley

Tell us a little about yourself? You are based in Washington, DC, what is the creative community like?
I have moved, with all my belongings neatly smashed into two large suitcases, precisely six times since graduating from college last spring. That must be some kind of record. My inability to choose a life direction means I have to buy new jigsaws and plywood each time I relocate. When I'm not quitting my unpaid internships to move out of the state, I enjoy making art everyday, going to thrift stores with my family and speaking French to myself in the late hours of the morning. I am an artist and a writer who cannot separate the two. My biggest fear is not living long enough to do everything I must do and my greatest accomplishment was weighing 11 lbs at birth.

(I just moved to Washington, DC. Although I lived here for two years when I was younger, I was too young to gauge the creative community. And since I've only been here a month, I'm not sure what the creative atmosphere is like yet. I imagine it is very political, though!) 

What is your life’s history with art? Has it been a part of your life for a long time?
My dad brought home a blue 3-ring binder when I was six years old. I filled it with drawing after drawing of fashionable old ladies holding their small dogs on leashes. I'm so glad my parents lied to me as a kid, telling me, "Hannah, you're such an amazing artist" because I kept making art like I was a some kind of young Picasso until finally my parents looked at me one day and realized I finally had become quite good. I still make art everyday because I love it, because I make myself laugh with it and because, of course, I'm unemployed. 

How did you get into your 'twistable' process? What do you love about creating this way?
I found these paper dolls on Pinterest with moveable joints and I thought, well, gee, I can do that. During my last year of college, I decided to experiment with a few of my own and that was that - I was hooked. What's so different about Twistables compared to other paper dolls is their peek-a-boo quality. There's something tantalizing to me about making an object that gives you just enough to pique your interest, but hides enough so that you can't stop yourself from interacting with it to discover what's under a skirt, a bed sheet, an ice cream truck or a boob. Twistables are like drawings, simply with two layers. I love the complexity of a moving sculpture combined with the simplicity of a 2D drawing.

Your work has an alluring sense of playfulness and exoticness. What themes do you hope to communicate through your work?
Wow, thank you!

Playfulness is key. I try to juggle these everyday things that affect me and the people around me, like body fat, the sometimes awkward mechanics of sex, lesbian love, body hair, facing our deepest fears and eating a lot of food. But as serious as these topics can be, I made the decision to make exclusively positive work. After all, being playful and having fun with art is political in itself, is it not? Physically touching the art is also vital, because interactivity is my favorite way to connect my art to others. Playfulness delivered with positivity and a side of humor is my specialty.

At the end of the day, I am a toy maker and my toys are meant to be played with, not fixed to a wall behind a gold chain and a rather tall, intimidating gallery docent.

We must ask, were you at the Women's March? What has the atmosphere been like since the election?
Alas, I was not. I watched longingly from the sidelines of Portland, OR. Then, weirdly enough, I made a flash decision to move from Portland to DC and missed the March by a month. Can you believe it? I love being in DC during this political era we've found ourselves in. The only person I have to talk about politics so far though is my dad, who is not as liberal as I am, but he's learning :)

Lastly, who are some women that inspire you?
I love Kara Walker because she showed me the power of cutting silhouettes by hand to bring characters into this world. I love Yayoi Kusama because she has to keep making art in vast abundance to cope with her mental illness. I love Beverly Semmes because she made me think about colour, repetition and translucence all at once. I love my friends who are redefining for themselves what it means to be a woman in the Millennial Age. And, most importantly, I love my mum because she's the kindest person I know and she's funny as hell and I'm pretty sure my only purpose in life is to make her proud of me because nothing makes me happier.

@hannahcakekelley