Friday, March 12, 2004
Printmaker chooses fine art over a profession
While Sing Hanson has worked in graphic design almost all her professional life, she only now feels she can call herself "an artist." For 35 years she worked at the Boston Children's Museum as a graphic designer, exhibit designer, and finally as a program administrator. While she periodically took classes at the DeCordova Museum School, she had limited time to dabble artistically on her own.
"I finally decided that, as I'm not getting younger, it was time to jump," says Hanson, who lives in Bedford. Since 2001, she has primarily focused on digital-based printmaking. That same year she participated in a juried group show of the Bedford Day Art Show.
"You have to start somewhere," says the artist, and she has continued to show her work locally. In 2002 she entered her work to juried group shows at the Emerson Umbrella and at the DeCordova. She received an Honorable Mention at that year's Bedford Day Art Show. She has had solo shows at Starbucks and the Trinity Church in Concord, the Flynt Center of Historic Deerfield, and the Bedford Renaissance Hotel. She won a first prize in photography at a juried group show at the Arts for All! Festival in Bedford. She is active in developing the Bedford Center for the Arts.
If you haven't viewed Hanson's fine-art photographic prints yet, you'll have an opportunity at her "Recent Work" exhibit at the Gleason Public Library. The show runs from now until April 30. It includes about 30 digital photographs, collages and multi-media prints. Most are 20 x 24" formats, and are for sale as framed or unframed pieces. Small, hand-made books by the artist also appear in a glass case.
A day in the life of an artist
Hanson still puts in a 40-plus-hour week as she did when she worked as a museum professional, but finds that she isn't totally free to create during that time. Every day she gets into the studio early in the morning to deal with administrative tasks such as contacting galleries or obtaining materials. She tackles mundane tasks like printing out labels to describe her pieces for a show. She may sort through the 500 images she already has on file or take her digital camera outdoors to take some new pictures.
"My favorite images are water and light," says Hanson. "I'm very interested in light right now."
Hanson primarily uses "Polaroid transfer" process to make her prints. The artist starts with a photographic slide and puts it into a little printer with Polaroid film at the bottom. She exposes the film, and while it's developing, she opens it up and prints it. She then scans the image into the computer. The same image can end up looking different depending on how Hanson balances colors digitally. Sometimes she chooses to manually paint over the image using water colors, or pencil or whatever she is experimenting with that day. She may do multiple versions of the same print, but limits her editions to 15.
"I'm just beginning to understand that if you use a digital camera, you can get much more light out of it than you can with a film camera," says Hanson. "You do sacrifice some distinctness."
The newest pieces in the show reflect the artist's interest in light. She calls them "Water Fires" and took the photos in Rhode Island last summer. Older prints cover the walls of her office. She has many artistic experiments that she will not exhibit, including some beautiful wood carvings she made in a class years ago.
Hanson recently began layering a variety of multimedia materials on her prints for a collage effect. After a recent DeCordova class, she began producing an array of collages based on the same print and using multiple materials to produce different results. This work is new and promising, but the artist feels it's "difficult to explain" at present and she will not share it publicly yet.
At the Gleason Library show she will show journals with images that she gathered from her own life that tell a short story. One book shows a day in the life of a dog. Hanson has a Labrador retriever and two cats. She learned to make books from yet another class.
"I still go to school, " says Hanson of her life as an artist. "I keep trying to learn as much as I can."
Moving on as an artist
Hanson's first name, "Sing" is short for "Signe," a Scandinavian name of her great-aunt. She has a strong interest in history, and recently began researching Scandinavian mythology for some collage work.
Originally from Illinois, Hanson grew up on her grandmother's farm with her parents and three brothers. When she was a teenager, her father — a professional architect and hobbyist painter — relocated the family to live Providence where his job had moved. She fondly recalls going on Saturday mornings to the city where she and her father would each take an art course.
"I didn't study art in college, but it was something I liked to do," says Hanson, "I took some art classes." She attended Smith College and obtained a liberal arts degree with a major in English. She subsequently studied commercial design at the N.E. School of Art, and then went on to study painting at Boston University.
Ongoing exhibits and continuing classes certainly will enable Hanson to to develop her craft. She's humble when she says, "I am an artist now." In the meantime, the array of interesting works at the Gleason makes that statement with confidence.
© 2004 The Carlisle Mosquito