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Local Musician and Visual Artist Hansmole Creates Vulnerable Art

By Melissa Faye Reid (Host of Funk ‘N’ Ska Friday 8:00-9:00am)

It was a sunny Thursday morning in a busy coffee shop near Cook Street, when I recognized Hansmole’s pixie-like features and blunt, blonde bob bouncing through the doorway. After finding a quiet booth behind the door, Hansmole joined me with a pot of tea.

As a visual artist and musician, Hansmole uses many mediums for expression. She paints, draws, embroiders, as well as performs live shows. No medium is her favourite—it tends to be whatever she is using at the time. Some of her art was a feature exhibit at the Fifty Fifty Arts Collective, a non-profit centre for artists.

Hansmole’s Ripeness and Rot exhibit featured a series of self-portraits inspired by a dark period in Hansmole’s life. Looking through Hansmole’s website I noticed raw and visceral paintings with a sense vulnerability. One painting, a brightly coloured torso, was mutilating it’s own arms with swords. “[It was] a way to act out an impulse that I didn’t feel would be safe or healthy to act out in real life,” said Hansmole.

Of all her artistic talents Hansmole finds creating music the most challenging. As a solo act, Hansmole has no band to rely on and feels the pressure performing in front of people. “My art is intensely personal but I always try—unintentionally or intentionally— to do the next [step] that make’s it separate from myself,” said Hansmole. “[I’ll create] vague and frustrating lyrics to listen to so I’m not putting myself directly out there—because that is a very nerve-racking thing to do.”

Hansmole’s album, Whitest Whiteness, although recorded at home, sounds like studio quality. The album made Silent Shout’s Top 25 Albums of 2014 and received positive reviews. Raw, industrial sounds weave through haunting melodies and harmonies creating a whole sounding album. The tracks are simple yet feel full.

Daft Punk’s, “Get Lucky” interrupted our conversation when a group of people grooved into the coffee shop with ghetto blaster. As we waited for the commotion to settle down, Hansmole remarked, “those people love life.” As a self-identified intellect, Hansmole admitted it took a while to figure out how her brain worked.

Her inspiration can come from an intrusive thought that becomes a painting, or a phrase from a book that becomes a concept for a song. She sews artistic patches on ripped clothing, making clothes useable again. Hansmole finds real life boring and through her art is able to create something divorced from the everyday.

As a student of both art and anthropology, Hansmole is hyper-aware of her art and the context in which she is doing it. Anthropology has steered her away from “primitivism,” a form of art that is primal and historic, to be more aware of what she is expressing and why. By being aware Hansmole says, “I’m not accidently going to be an asshole if I’m an asshole who has purpose behind it. Even though it’s important to be nice.” Hansmole’s art—whatever mode—has a fresh quality about it. It feels honest and something anyone could resonate with.

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