If you visit the website for New York City’s Dacia Gallery, the first thing you will see is 2017 Newman graduate Hannah Somes’ artwork. She was selected to be showcased at a group art show at the gallery last week. The Women Artists Exhibition runs until March 3.
Somes got her piece in the art show after she saw the Dacia Gallery post an open call for women artists on Instagram. She sent in an application and submitted a painting. After waiting for more than a month, she saw her name listed as a finalist on the website.
“I didn’t let myself believe it until I got the confirmation email, and that’s when I lost it. It was definitely surreal” Somes said.
Somes started taking art classes at Newman as a high school student.
Somes said that Mary Werner, director of visual arts, continues to inspire her in her life and work. Somes has pursued her work as an artist full time since her graduation with an art degree.
Somes said she creates art, sells pieces and prints and also has done a couple of other shows in Wichita: one at HUE Gallery and another at 86 Cold Press.
Werner said that the pursuit of art is not an easy career path.
“There’s a terrible misconception at Newman and everywhere else that art is recess, and it is not recess. It’s focus and discipline and hard work and research and understanding the timelines of history and what it has to offer you. It’s complex” Werner said “Hannah get’s that.”
Somes said her trip to New York was the first time she had been in the city. Her mother and sister, both fellow artists, made the trip along with her.
The piece Somes displayed is called “Melina.” Melina is a 24 by 30 inch oil painting on canvas and is a lifelike profile of a black woman with striking features. Her hair is adorned with a honey comb headpiece, dripping honey. Behind her is a flat pale peach colored circle. Behind the circle is a beehive and floral pattern. A rich indigo blue, olive green and shades of golden yellow showcase Somes’ self proclaimed love of vivid color.
A larger-than-life but perfectly detailed bee hovers near Melina’s forehead. Somes said this is an ode to the connection between honey and bees and femininity.
“I wanted to portray the strength, grace, spirituality, resilience, beauty, transformation, and connection to nature that all women embody” Somes said.
Melina is from a series of paintings that Somes said she based on women in her life. Somes said Melina specifically is inspired by a very close friend of hers who has a love for bees.
Somes said the owner of Dacia Gallery, Lee Vasu, was inspired to host this art show while watching his young daughter draw. Somes said Vasu wanted to showcase the unique perspective that women bring to art and the world.
Somes said she loved the fact that Vasu said, “This show isn’t meant to empower women.
Women don’t need to be empowered because they are already powerful.”
Somes said the experience of showing her art at Dacia taught her various things.
“It definitely gave me the extra motivation to push myself more in the art world. It’s always scary putting yourself and your work out there. “
Hannah is now working on a new body of art, and she said she is very excited about it.
“It will still be on the topic of women and it’s definitely going to be the biggest project of mine so far. I’ve been collaborating with a few people, so there’s a lot of work put into it already”
This story first appeared in the March 1, 2o18 issue of The Vantage.