Samar Ziadat | March 20 2016
Hanan Sharifa is a 24 year old artist from Minnesota. She graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2014 with a BFA in Painting. During her BFA, she completed a semester at the California College of the Arts with a focus on textiles. Since then, she has relocated to California and has started a residency at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, where she screen prints fabric alongside artists Anne Hamilton and Janine Antoni. Hanan dardashat with Samar about her love for tactile materials and colour, as well as what influences the narratives behind her work.
Is there a reason why you work primarily with textiles?
Textiles have a real grasp on me! I got into it about 2 years ago and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since I started. There is something about the weight of textiles and its history that is so fascinating to me. The thing I love about weaving is that I feel like I’m taking control of my time and that I’m reclaiming my time by sitting and meditating and thinking through my hands. There is something so alluring about working with something so tactile – especially living in a modern age where digital screens are invading our space constantly.
Textiles in general can also be so invisible in our daily lives, even though we are constantly around them from the day we are born until the day that we die. Even with painting – which is what I have my BFA in – you paint on a stretched canvas. It’s so invisible that most people don’t even consider the material that is painted on! Of course there are artists like Agnes Martin who use the weave of the canvas to show that it is a material, but I feel like I am adding to the conversation by weaving my own canvas and highlighting the painting as a woven material.
Who are the artists that inspire your work?
Some of my favorite contemporary artists are Tauba Auerbach, Anne Catherine November Hoibo, Dianna Molzan, and Alex Olson. Some old school artists I love are Wassily Kandinsky, Anni Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, Blinky Palermo Palermo, Joan Mirro, Helen Frankenthaler, Richard Tuttle, and obviously Agnes Martin of course!
Can you tell us about your most recent project?
Right now I’m working on a large scale repeat patterns. For my one-color pattern I was doing a lot of research and sketching. I named it after the Greek key pattern, which is the ornament in the top left corner of the print. The reason why I became interested in the Greek key pattern was because it’s all over the architecture here in Philadelphia, I had to know what this pattern was that I kept seeing! I thought it was so fascinating how a lot of the architectural elements and motifs here are derivative of ancient Greece, so that’s where my interest started with the motif . It’s ancient and one of the oldest patterns known to humans, symbolizing infinity or the eternal flow of things. It’s a pattern that seems to take different forms in almost every ancient culture. So the whole pattern uses different symbols to create a story. I see it as a mystery and each image is a key to create a whole.
Most recently I’ve been working on a three-color print. I was researching the history of the hounds tooth patterns and I was gathering these patterns and photocopying them wrinkled to give the illusion of it being a three-dimensional object when they are flat pieces of paper. The brush strokes that I incorporate in the pattern are to break the illusion, and to show the nature of its two-dimensions. So the process involved a lot of cutting and collaging and creating endless brush strokes to try to get ones that looked “right” to me and cutting those and uploading them into Photoshop and moving things around and changing the colors. I have never really designed large scale multi color screen prints before, so it has actually been a learning experience for me. I also never work in Photoshop to create images, but with this project it made the most sense to me.
Do you do the screen printing manually or is it done by machine?
Good question! It’s done manually by me. The FWM provides us with large silk screens and ink. Because the screens are so large, we usually need about two to three, sometimes even four, people to help print. One or two people hold the screen down and two people pull the squeegee across the screen. It’s very manually intensive. It’s a very traditional way of screen printing. Most of the prints are hand drawn too.
Yes, this is the most precise way I’ve ever had to work, but that’s the nature of screen printing! With my weavings I usually have a general idea of the size or the shape or the color but I also just try to listen to the material and figure it out as I go. I rarely have an idea that I sketch out and then replicate directly; I don’t see the excitement in that. The only times that I have, is because I have a very specific idea or goal in mind, but I always like to keep an open mind for change.
One of my favourite weavings of yours is this wall hanging – it’s beautiful! Can you tell me more about it?
Thank you! That one was actually a piece I was commission for. I’m a studio assistant at Freia Fibers in Oakland. It’s a studio where we hand paint gradient yarns. I made that one for the company so they can show people another way to use the yarn. Gradient yarns just mean that they have a gradient in the color, so it starts off one color and then ends in another color. I kind of adopted some gradient aspects in my personal work, like this one:
Is there a reason you usually work in gradients?
My work is very much influenced by my environments, as most artists are, but I feel like living in California I’m constantly surrounded by these beautiful pastel colors and the ocean and rolling hills and remarkable sunsets that it comes through in my work. Being in Philadelphia I feel like my work has gotten so much darker! I also feel like making my work is so pleasurable and incites a beautiful feeling, so I want to keep the colors in correlation with that.
What does the weaving process entail?
I mostly use my four harness floor loom – other times, if I’m traveling or don’t have access to a loom, I use a frame loom. Depending on the scale and the size of the thread it can take 6-30 hours give or take. For example, this one is smaller and has larger thread, so it maybe took four hours to weave, and then I hand painted it, which took another two to four hours.
Ball is life in Morocco reminds me a bit of your one-colour print.
Yes, that is one of the last weavings I made before moving out to Philadelphia. My weavings definitely became more graphic. I think they became more graphic, because I knew I was going to be doing this screen printing residency.
Is this work inspired by a specific trip to Morocco?
Yeah it is. One of the first times I went back to Morocco as an adult was also during the Egyptian revolution in 2012 – that’s the reason for the pyramid. The basketball was representative of how active my cousins were with playing any kind of ball game all day every day. So again, it’s a story.
What are your ambitions for the future?
Ooft that’s a good question. I know I want to get my MFA, but I want to wait a while longer to get some more life experience. I would like to be able to get into some more residencies that I applied for in the winter. I’d like to continue traveling and making art and also eventually show my work in galleries. I’d also like to spend less time at jobs for money and more time in the studio. Getting some grants and some recognition would be nice. I just want to keep being happy!
Where can we see more of your work?
Samar Ziadat is a postgraduate student in modern and contemporary art history at the University of Edinburgh. When she’s not ranting about intersectional feminism, she’s either curled up with a book or her cat. You can follow her on instagram and twitter, or read her articles here.