The Redding Pilot, February 2007


An intuitive painter and printmaker, Kim Hanna of Redding works in a soft and low-keyed palette with her oil on panel paintings, and her use of color and lyrical imagery have a magical sensibility.

Recurring motifs in her work – birds, fish, women and water – are not purely representational, but rather pathways to emotional states that reveal what quietly lurks behind the real, according to the artist.

Ms. Hanna is creative director of The Ridgefield Guild of Artists, where she recently shared a show titled “I & I” with artist and poet Phil Demise Smith. In 2004, she also created a two-person show with Kevin Conklin titled “Moment to Moment” at the Ridgefield Library, and has exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States. Her work is in both corporate and private collections internationally.

In guild show

In 2004, Kim Hanna was chosen to participate in the prestigious Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum’s emerging artist series. This year, she was among 22 artists from Connecticut and New York named artist members of the Silvermine Guild. They all exhibited their artwork in the annual juried new member show.

In this exhibition, Ms. Hanna’s oil on panel titled “Night Flight” illuminated globular shapes moving in a murky environment. Another work, a mixed media piece titled “Woman in Blue Veil,” recalled a classic icon painting of the Madonna, but in this instance, the subject is lopsided. Her oblique, angular face peers out from swaths of material and thick yellow paint, deepening the black skin and empty black eyes that have a seeing consciousness.

Interviewed at her Redding studio, Ms. Hanna said her love of art began when she was in the first grade at Labrobe, PA, a small town near Pittsburgh. She also recalled that as the oldest of six children, she was given a box of crayons with a sharpener by her mother to keep her busy when each of her five siblings arrived.

“My mother painted before she had children. When I was growing up, her paintings were always hung in a prominent place in our house,” said Ms. Hanna, who began her art studies at Pennsylvania State University. She received her fine art training at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC, and began her career as a graphic designer working for the Washington Times doing layout work.

“A feeling”

“When I was in Washington, I wasn’t involved much in painting, but I always kept my foot in the door by taking art classes. When I started painting again, I exhibited in juried shows in Annapolis, MD, moving more toward abstract expressionism from a realistic figurative base. As artists mature, they become more abstract, and I look at images as guides to take me through my work. I don’t come to the canvas with a plan, but weave the threads that come from the inside rather than the outside, the colors, the images, and when it’s done, it’s a feeling,” said the artist.

Kim Hanna and her husband, Michael Whitehouse, and their daughter Lucy, now 12 years old, moved to California in 1997. She resumed painting and exhibited at galleries in Palo Alto and San Francisco in addition to teaching kindergarten.

Returning to the East Coast in 2002, Ms. Hanna said, “When we moved to Redding three years ago, I found the Ridgefield Guild of Artists and helped put together the guild’s history. I have participated in several juried shows, in addition to the mark Twain Library juried show and the Undercover group show at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.”

Collaboration project

The artist is working on a Silvermine/Aldrich collaboration project titled “Flight” with artist Liz Dexheimer.

“She has the canvas and began the project, and when we exchange it, I will go somewhere mutual and it will be juried at Silvermine,” said Ms. Hanna, who is currently working with birds in her painting. “My mother also liked birds because they were close to heaven,” she said.

An admirer of abstract expressionist Paul Klee’s work, Ms. Hanna said, “My work always parallels him, and depends on the different phases I go through. When my daughter was born, I worked with the sun, moon, stars, butterflies, and fanciful things. When I taught kindergarten in California, I was inspired by the children’s art.Ms. Hanna’s work will be featured in the next exhibit at the Ridgefield Guild of Artists. She has taught the art of mask making at the guild and finds working with children also helps her own art.
“With every class I have taught, I found my work responding to the children’s inherent creativity. They are so open to experimentation without the agony of over-intellectualizing,” she said.


When asked what inspires her to paint, Ms. Hanna said, “I work from the inside out. People inspire me – my connection with them, what they tell me about themselves and what they teach me about myself. Color inspires me and other working artists inspire me. Films inspire me. There is beauty everywhere – even on the side of a dumpster – the rust, peeling paint, graffiti, and even a cracked sidewalk. Everything in nature inspires me. How can it not? I like going with things that just happen.

“I have enjoyed a monoprint class at the Ridgefield Guild of Artists because there are a lot of unexpected ‘gifts’ that happen during the process. Being able to ‘see’ them is the trick now. Too often if artists attain some level of success, they tend to stay with what is comfortable. I like to be pushed into places that make me find new solutions, new ways of seeing. When I can vacillate between the conscious and the unconscious and express it through my work, then the work is a success,” said Ms. Hanna.

With gallery presence in both Silvermine Guild and Ridgefield and Bryant Street Galley in Palo Alto, Calif., the artist is now looking forward to additional representation locally.