“The images I create study the divergence of what we perceive as natural and man-made environments, as well as the places where they connect and overlap, exploring the sometimes fine line between these places. As modernization has created a separation of ‘civilization’ from ‘nature’, it has become easier to feel disconnected from and to undervalue, overuse, and mistreat the environment.
Much of my work consists of abstracted portraits of ecosystems, including mono-prints, cyanotypes and drawings. Some embrace the overall feel of a location-depicting the Atlantic Ocean, a swamp, or a forest- while others are details of nature- a puddle, dirt, or mushroom spores. My art encourages viewers to question if and why they feel dissociation with nature and their environment, and how these feelings correlate with their connection to other people. By encouraging deeper investigation, connection, and appreciation towards nature, viewers are urged to take better care of the environment, and also to be kinder, more empathetic and thoughtful beings.
Other work is more illustrative, exploring issues of environmental and social justice, such as nuclear testing, traveling to mars, and living and work conditions. These drawings are highly researched and are intended to bring light to historical and current moments that are often swept under the rug. This is an ongoing project that is intended to be turned into a book one day.
Environmental issues have a far greater impact on communities with fewer financial and social resources and whose livelihoods depend on natural resources. Globally, women and other marginalized groups have less access to decision-making processes within their communities, increasing inequality and preventing them from participating in climate-related policy-making and implementation. Often, the same groups of people who are less privileged racially, economically, educationally, etc. also have less control over what happens to their environment and less access to healthy living and working conditions. Environmental issues do not just encircle the preservation of national parks, greenhouse gases, or the arctic melting. Though these are all important issues, it also important to look at the environmental issues often categorized under environmental justice. These include living and working conditions, access to clean water and healthy food, and the location of toxic waste facilities and factories. I hope to use my art not only to address traditional environmental issues, but also to encourage social and political change.
Hannah Mathis grew up in Nashville, Tennessee and has called Chicago, Illinois her home since 2013. Mathis received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Art with a focus in Drawing, Painting and Printmaking at DePaul University. Mathis has exhibited work throughout Chicago, and has work in the BIG INK collection. She is completing a SIM residency in Reykjavik, Iceland in February 2020.