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Danielle Hession

November 10, 2010

Danielle Hession incorporates pastel colors and ghost-like images to create a nostalgic image of family life. The past has a strong role in her life and in her work; it allows not only herself to muse on the past, but her audience as well. Themes of balance, travel and gravity are seen throughout her work. In the 21st century, there is a fine line between the past and the future. We are able to collect images in mass quantities thanks to technology, but these items are becoming less and less tangible.

Where are you from? Has suburbia influenced you at all?

I was born in Kingston, Ontario, [which is] a small university town surrounded by five penitentiaries. My family moved to Aspen, Colorado, when I was 11 years old. This was a true paradise with a small local population but a bustling tourist industry. I would say that I experienced a suburban life during the “off season” in Aspen (a few weeks in the spring and fall). It would become a ghost town and with that came solitude and at times restlessness. I have been living in Toronto, Ontario, for the last nine years. I adore the fast-pace of the city, but I find that I crave escapes to a more suburban or slow-paced setting from time to time.

Your images are very nostalgic. What are some themes in your work, and why do you use them?

I have always had an undeniable tie to anything old and weathered. I must have a close connection to my past life. I have an endless curiosity for different ways of life, whether that be cultural or historical. I find that old photos and objects are great windows into the past. Curiosity and storytelling are significant themes in my work. There is always a sense of abandonment and sadness when I find people’s memories and cherished belongings for sale as commodities. I have an urge and fascination to rescue these artifacts and create new lives for them.

What inspires/influences you as an artist?

I am fascinated and inspired by the old, the loved and the forgotten. There is an antique store in Leadville, Colorado, that provides endless amounts of inspiration. There are rooms and drawers spilling with old objects. I often wish I could teleport myself there on a weekly basis. I could happily spend every day searching through old scrapbooks and photo collections. I find myself in a constant exploration of society’s relationship with treasured objects and personal memories.

How do you create your art?

I usually start my process with an image that I am inspired by. I will sometimes edit or manipulate the image before I start to work with it. Most of my work is transparency-based. I do gel medium transfers and acetone transfers so I can layer images on paper and painted surfaces. I also work with acrylic paint, pencil and pastel chalk. I apply all of this onto birch plywood boards. I find they stand up well to transfers and the resin coating I put on each piece.

What is the importance of balance and balloons in your work?

A lot of my recent work relates to balance and gravity—searching for balance personally yet wishing that worries and responsibilities could magically float away. These compositions are playful interpretations of daily thoughts and musings.

For more information on the artist, visit DanielleHession.com.

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