Hannah Chalew

2022 State Fellow

Hannah Chalew

Recipient Information

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Medium

Mixed Media

Year of Award

2022

Grant or Fellowship

Southern Prize and State Fellowship

Grant Amount

$5,000

Artist Statement

My artwork explores what it means to live in an era of global warming with an uncertain future, and specifically what that means in Southern Louisiana. My practice explores the historical legacies that got us here to help imagine new possibilities for a livable future.

I make work that connects fossil fuel extraction and plastic production to their roots in the white supremacy and capitalism that have fueled the exploitation of people and the landscape from the times of colonization and enslavement. My works draw viewers into an experience that bridges past and present with visions of the future ecosystems that might emerge from our culture’s detritus if we fail to change course. Believing that art has the power to make people feel deeply and to question their perspectives, I use my artwork to reach and engage people on the issue of climate change in an increasingly oversaturated information age.

In art pieces ranging from works on paper to large-scale installations, I bring together unlikely materials in combinations that are often beautiful; they draw viewers in to stay with the work that, on closer inspection, has a deeper burn that implicates them in our collective new realities—challenging them to think critically about their place in this greater network as we co-evolve together. My work creates space to imagine what else could be possible now and beyond; it inspires viewers to think about what individual and collective changes are needed for a just transition to a livable future.

Biography

Hannah Chalew is an artist, educator and environmental activist raised and currently working in New Orleans. Her artwork explores what it means to live in a time of global warming with a collective uncertain future, and specifically what that means for those of us living in Southern Louisiana. Her practice explores the historical legacies that got us here to help imagine new possibilities for a livable future. Since 2018, she has sought to divest her studio practice from fossil fuels as much as possible through the materials she uses: choosing recycled, free, and sustainable materials; by powering her artworks and studio practice with renewable resources like solar power and rain-water harvesting; and by traveling by bike to and from my studio.

She received her BA from Brandeis University in 2009, and her MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2016. Chalew has exhibited widely around New Orleans and has shown around the country at the Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis, MO; Wave Hill Public Garden and Cultural Center, Bronx, NY; Minnesota Center for the Book Arts, Minneapolis, MN; Dieu Donné, New York, NY; Asheville Museum of Art, Asheville, NC, and other venues. Her work is held in the collections of the City of New Orleans and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. She recently received a Monroe Research Fellowship from Tulane University to create ink from fossil fuel pollution in collaboration with fence-line communities in Southern Louisiana.