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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Hannah Campbell: Studio Art Major

Every week, The Mac Weekly sits down with a senior majoring in an artistic field. This week, we had the pleasure of speaking with studio art major and computer science minor Hannah Campbell. Campbell grew up in Hong Kong, and she focuses on sculpture. Featured: the senior show, canoeing in the Amazon, working in the theater department and looking at art as a puzzle.

Self-Portrait by Hannah Campbell. Photo courtesy of Hannah Campbell.
Self-Portrait by Hannah Campbell. Photo courtesy of Hannah Campbell.

How did you end up coming to Mac?

One of my friends applied to the school a year before me, and she was telling me about it. It sounded cool, so I applied.

Did you come to Mac knowing that you wanted to do studio art & comp sci?

Not at all, I had no idea what I was doing at all. I figured it out along the way. I was like, “I don’t know what to do, these sound fun”—and I just kept choosing art classes. So [I thought], “I guess I’ll just major in it.” And computer science, I had just tried it out and it was super fun.

When did you first start doing art?

In high school I took design courses, which was a lot of fun. I was interested in it, but I didn’t want to limit myself to a design school, so I came to the liberal arts.

Is there any cross-over with your art and comp sci?

Not directly—I think the puzzle, problem-solving things inform each other, and [help me] get better at creative problem solving, which I really like. They help each other that way. That’s how I approach my art, personally.

Could you talk about your senior show a little bit?

What it is is this bunch of branches that I’m gluing together—I’ve been scraping the bark off of them for forever—to make them look like the capillaries in the lungs. They’re the same structure, so I thought it was interesting to put them all together—puzzle it together. It was sort of a big, long process. Last semester I took a wilderness course in the Amazon, and while I was there I was just looking at nature and spending time outside which was really nice. After a while, I started to notice that the aesthetics of things were connected, but they were very different things, so I started thinking about that and puzzling it in my head: everything is connected. Out there in the jungle, surrounded by wilderness, it was mind-blowing. So I wanted to bring that in to my senior show.

Tree by Hannah Campbell, currently on display in the lobby of the new Studio Art Building. Photo courtesy of Hannah Campbell.
Tree by Hannah Campbell, currently on display in the lobby of the new Studio Art Building. Photo courtesy of Hannah Campbell.

What prompted you to take that trip?

I think I just wanted to get away from everything, just take some kind of time to see nature. And [it was] sort of an introspection thing as well, to think about what I wanted, to meet new people and spend three months with only those people. I’ve taken outdoor trips in the past but never as long as that; I was gone for a pretty long time. I learned a lot, it was good.

What were some of the highlights?

The sunsets and the sunrises — ‘cause you would get up really early, and if it was after a storm, it was really beautiful. There were some really nice days where everybody just clicks, and everybody’s in a good mood. We were canoeing for a few weeks, so that nice dynamic was fun. We saw some cool Amazon animals; we saw a tapir. It’s got a little mini trunk. It’s kind of like a cross between an elephant and a horse except small. It’s a really weird animal, really funny looking. So many bugs, lots of butterflies. We have lots of pictures, lots of flowers. It was with a program called NOLS, National Outdoor Leadership School. They do a bunch of programs, but not everyone was actually in school. There were two kids who were on their gap year trips. And there was also this one guy, who was like 29, and a biologist, so he was there to look at biology things. It was a range; mostly the people who were there were college-aged, but there was a variety. It was a lot of fun.

Did you come to any conclusions about what you want in the future?

Nothing definitive. I came to a place where I was just like, “I’ll figure it out,” and I was OK with that, because before I was really stressed about it. For after graduation, I’m going to intern with my sculpture professor over the summer, and then I’m volunteering with a sea turtle conservation thing for a little while. So that’ll take me to December, and then I dunno. I’ve been thinking about maybe doing design for sustainability for grad school. I think that would combine [art and comp sci], and then the nature interest would also be in there. Hopefully; we’ll see.

What have been some of your favorite classes at Mac?

CSI Macalester; a chemistry class. I took it my first semester here. I’m not sure it’s a class anymore, but it was super fun — like chemistry, but forensics. It was super cool. My favorite art class, though — Sculpture I was fun. We did the very last bronze pour with the old system. I liked learning that kind of stuff, and it was a fun group of people. I’m taking Installation Art this semester; we’ve just been putting random stuff in the new building, and making it cool, so that’s fun too. I took Architectural Drawing, which was just planning, but that was cool too.

Had you had experiences with sculpture before coming here?

Not specifically. I had done the design thing, so I had always been into the three dimensional, so I just sort of went into that. One thing I think that people don’t realize about art is how long it takes to do things. I forget it all the time, like, “Yeah it’ll take two hours”, but no, it’ll take all day.

Tree by Hannah Campbell, currently on display in the lobby of the new Studio Art Building. Photo courtesy of Hannah Campbell.
Tree by Hannah Campbell, currently on display in the lobby of the new Studio Art Building. Photo courtesy of Hannah Campbell.

Have you been involved at all in the Twin Cities art scene?

Not really. I don’t really see myself in the traditional gallery/display thing, which is why I’m leaning more towards design I think. I went to Northern Spark this last summer, which was fun, but I didn’t even really consider showing stuff. The politics of it sounds exhausting, and the bureaucracy — I don’t really want to deal with it. I would like to design for utility, I think that would be fun, because I’m into the problem-solving thing. I enjoy having a more concrete challenge, more specifications; I mean I enjoy the creative, do-whatever-you-want thing as well, but I imagine for work, that would be better. I’ve been working in the scene shop in the theater as my student employee job, and making sets for that, so that’s been fun. We worked on the last show, In the Blood. We built the bridge for that — made it look like concrete, all that.

That set was the most impressive I’ve seen so far.

It was fun to work on. It’s similar to one a couple years ago — we made a big wave, and the audience was on the stage, but it was this big metal frame with blue, because it was supposed to be a flood in the play. It was this big blue wave, and the actual set was dirt. There was dirt on the stage, it was just ridiculous. Tom Barrett is the one who designs the crazy ones. I really like that environment, it’s super fun to work in because we just kind of mess around, but also get stuff done. It’s teamwork, working towards this combined goal that we’re all kind of invested in. We have fun doing it, we’re not invested in the show as much.

Do you see yourself doing stuff with theater and set design?

Maybe. It’s sort of open, my life.

Do you have any last remarks, anything else you want to say?

Art is fun. [laughs]

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