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Hannah Lee Scott talks about her journey to becoming an artist

Jordan Kirtley
Artist Hannah Lee Scott, photographed at Vortex Souvenir—the art and gift shop she co-owns in Wichita's Delano district— with the KMUW coffee mug that features her artwork.

Interview Highlights

When did you know, at what point in your life did you know? I want to be an artist?

Well, I have been into art since I was little, you know, and I love drawing. Um, I would do it all the time, but originally when I graduated high school and I went to college, I was focusing on being a journalism major. And I took a couple art classes for some degree requirements, basically. But through those art classes, I met these amazing teachers and classmates that really pushed me to change my major and do what I actually wanted to do. And in my heart, I knew that that's what I really did want to do. And so I made that switch and I just have not looked back.

I want to talk about your art, you know, like the medium that you use. And, and how that has progressed. Can you take me through your trajectory as an artist, you know, how you started and how you have evolved?

Yeah. So in art school, particularly, I was focusing only on graphite drawings on paper. So pencil on paper, very tightly rendered, realistic drawings, a lot of the human figure kind of integrated into these landscapes. They felt a little metaphysical, a little surreal in a way. That's really all I focused on in my undergrad. After I graduated, you know, there was a little bit of feeling jaded just from all of the work that has to happen in art school. And I kind of completely stopped with that path. I did something completely different where I was just doing these tiny little portraits all day, every day with this business that I was working with. And it really feels like in my art career, one thing will just bounce over to the other side where it's like, I'm focusing on these tiny drawings. And then I bounce over to doing these large scale murals.

And it's almost like my brain gets tired of doing one thing and wants to do something completely different. And I kind of get to exercise these different styles in that way, which I love to do. And it really has helped me to grow as an artist. And so now I'm, the pendulum is swinging back in the other way, where I am doing more pencil on paper and very intimate tightly rendered works again, like this piece for KMUW, while mixing in some new media that I haven't tried before, like spray paint and acrylic paint and stuff like that. But, you know, I found this very wide range of skills that I have had so much fun exploring, and I don't think that there's one way to be as an artist, you know, I think you can and really explore those different avenues and you'll only grow that way.

Hannah Lee Scott, "Curious Intruders"
Hannah Lee Scott, "Curious Intruders"

Okay. So now let's get back to the one piece that we're talking about that you have created for KMUW. Walk us through Curious Intruders and your inspiration for it.

Yeah. So Curious Intruders, it's basically about an encounter with the unknown. These amorphous blobs. They feel a little alien, or even like radioactive or just strange. Um, and they kind of represent when the unknown enters our lives in whatever form that takes and humans, I think are very, they have a tendency to immediately reject what we don't understand and that can lead to a lot of fear and this dangerous imbalance of, you know, misinformation and fear and ultimately turmoil, you know, amongst ourselves. And then I was thinking about, well then who becomes the intruder in that sense when we're so unwilling to learn about what we don't understand. I still wanted to believe that if we humble ourselves and we seek this common understanding, then this fear can be put to rest and we can find peace and the knowledge of ourselves and of others as well. I didn't want to make these shapes feel scary anymore, but kind of represent this symbiotic relationship that we can come to within ourselves.

To see the coffee mugs and shirts that feature Curious Intruders by Hannah Lee Scott, click here.

Beth Golay is KMUW's Director of Marketing and Digital Content. She is the host of the KMUW podcast Marginalia and co-host with Suzanne Perez of the Books & Whatnot podcast. You can find her on Wichita Transit in conversation with other riders for En Route, a monthly segment on KMUW's weekly news program The Range.