May 11, 2015Vol. 45, Issue 5

An Extraordinary Take on the Everyday

Hanna Aist aims to transform the mundane through art

Hanna Aist plans to pursue an MFA after graduating with honors in art this week. 

“Oh my god, you’re here – I know you!” Arms expressively waving, full throated with a touch of irony, art major Hanna Aist addressed her comments to the inanimate object that had just been projected in her slideshow: “The Dinner Party,” a famous installation artwork by Judy Chicago that is in the Brooklyn Museum. Aist was giving a lecture to a packed room of fellow students in Ayres Hall about her exciting art adventures in New York City this spring. She is the inaugural winner of the Mary K. Rolland NYC Art Studio Visit Award, a unique opportunity for top-flight Chico State art students to experience the Mecca of the art world in the U.S. (Rolland is a longtime artist, New York resident and the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. She also recently established the Mary K. Rolland Scholarship Endowment Fund for Fine Arts in HFA.)

Over eight days, Aist met successful artists, went to gallery showings and visited numerous studios and museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum. Even at her young age, the famous artworks Aist saw were like old friends, and she greeted them accordingly. “I thought the experience would be more intimidating,” she says. “Even though I had romanticized it so much, I still felt comfortable.” Nevertheless, with the wonderful array of activities that Rolland planned for her, Aist was continually catching her breath. “We did so many great thingsat the end of each day, I’d say, ‘I need to get some sleep tonight.’”

Aist was the inaugural winner of the Mary K. Rolland NYC Art Studio Visit Award. She spent a week soaking up the art scene in New York with Rolland (Art, ’67), left.

Aist was the inaugural winner of the Mary K. Rolland NYC Art Studio Visit Award. She spent a week soaking up the art scene in New York with Rolland (Art, ’67), left.

Aist, a Ventura, California native, has had art in her life all her life; her grandmother was an art teacher, and home-schooled as a child she was “always making things.” She enrolled at Ventura College knowing she ultimately wanted an art degree. A good friend asked her, Why not look at Chico? “I Googled Chico, saw the campus, saw the trees,” Aist says. “I came for a visit and could see there was something special about this place.” She transferred in 2012, spent 2013 studying art abroad in Florence, Italy, and will graduate this week with a BFA (emphasis painting) with honors in the major.

Aist’s paintings are arresting depictions of the mundane: what she calls “a fascination with everyday scenes, objects, and rituals.” One painting shows a woman putting on a bra, another focuses on someone flossing her teeth – Aist says she is interested in the tension between the comfort of the familiar, and the lure to “seek out alternative options.” She credits lecturer J. Pouwels for pushing her to explore why she was initially drawn to figure drawing, and why she wants to paint the scenes that attract her. Since arriving on campus, Aist has exhibited her work in group shows on campus as well as a two-person exhibition in the BMU 3rd floor gallery. She also recently curated a Sketchbook show in the B-So space gallery in Ayres.

After graduation, Aist plans to stay in Chico and keep doing art while researching where to pursue a masters of fine arts. “I will be painting forever, but the idea of teaching also appeals to me,” she says. “I really enjoy the dialogue that happens in an academic setting.” Art department faculty have told Aist they want to continue working with her, something she really appreciates. “Even though I won’t be a student anymore, they will help, act as mentors, so I can go further in my career,” Aist says. “The art faculty at Chico go above and beyond on a daily basis.”

—Joe Wills, Public Affairs and Publications 

Video link

What Would You Tell Your Freshman Self?

In this video, seniors share their touching—and funny—reflections on their college careers. Watch the video.


125th Commencement

Four days of commencement ceremonies begin Thursday, May 14. Search #Chico2015 on social media for a live chronicle of events. See schedule.

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