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Nicole Donnely

Hannah O'Hare Bennett was born and raised on an organic farm in central Kansas.  She earned a BFA in printmaking at the University of Kansas.  After that, she spent fifteen years working in sustainable agriculture and food systems, including serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador for two years.  In 2014 she returned to graduate school, earning an MFA in Design Studies from the University of Wisconsin Madison in 2017.  Since then she has had numerous residencies and shown her work around the country.  In 2020, she started her textile and papermaking studio, Philyra Studio, in Madison Wisconsin.  She has taught at Mount Mary University and will be teaching at the University of Montana Western this fall.  She also teaches workshops at Philyra Studio and at other arts centers in the US.

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Artist Statement

Prior to 2020, my work was inspired by biological and geological forces, things that exist whether human beings are around or not. I use basic materials like thread, paper, and mineral pigments to build sculptures and installations. Sometimes the work was grounded in a scientific concept, such as domestication, sometimes it was simply poetic.  In the last year, stuck at home because of the pandemic, my inspiration came mostly from the material world immediately surrounding me.  In the spring, I saw a tree backlit by a streetlight, the nascent leaves rendered translucent where the light hit.  My neighbors have a bush with purple leaves and sprays of fine flowers. Driving around town, I notice old brick, the shapes and colors of a fire hydrant, cracked sidewalks.  I collect impressions of these things and react to them in my work, making a kind of translation of the actual object or scene. 


At the Morgan, I worked on several pieces inspired by clouds, and the heavy rain that happened one weekend while I was there.  I also created components for an installation inspired by the abandoned buildings both in rural Missouri and in urban areas.

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