Published on September 11, 2019. Interview by 2019 Summer Intern, Caroline Carr Grant. Lou Haney is an artist, teacher, and mom living in Charlottesville. She exhibited at Welcome Gallery in May 2019.
Lou is our third featured 2019 artist in our fourth 7x7x7 Series, which asks 7 questions to 7 Charlottesville artists and published once a week for 7 weeks.
If you had a free afternoon in Charlottesville what would you do or where would you go?
Just because I do so many different things, if I had a free afternoon I would probably go to my studio. Having the open space and time is really nice. If I had a free afternoon with my family in tow...I love to hit up a thrift store with them. A little Bodo’s, a thrift store, and just bounce around with them—maybe hit up a brewery!
Describe your artistic work in 7 words.
Ornamental. Embellished. Excess. Textural. Abundant. Flourish. Too-much.
Who or what inspires your current work?
I can always go back to my grandmother, my mother, my daughter. The big women in my life. My grandmother lived in this tiny town in Tennessee named Medina and going there as a kid it was such a formative experience. This current body of work is definitely 70’s, inspired by this kind of nostalgia that happened right before I was born. It is very inspired by the visual culture of the world I grew up in. By the colors of the avocado green of the fridge, of the magazines that where all around my grandmothers house. She just had tons of stuff that was so different than my normal life. I still remember what my grandmothers pyrex looks like, and I find that so visually compelling.
Consider one piece you’re working on right now. Give us a snippet of your routine—from start to finish, what goes into making it?
I’ve been teaching a lot this summer so I am just now getting my rhythm back with my work. One thing that I have been playing around with is this idea of a source image—scanning it playing with it in illustrator and then printing it out and painting on it. Then I’ll take it and put it back into illustrator. I’ve also been working with this on-demand fabric printing service. I can order fabric that is printed. I may come in and stitch it and embroider it. I’ve also been using art spray paint and sometimes go back and paint work with regular acrylic for detail. It’s analog and digital and then taking it back to analog. To take something that is digitally printed and sew on top of it is super fun for me right now.
What have you learned about yourself as a person through the experience of making art?
I think you learn everything about yourself. What you’re good at, what your blindspots are. I think art teaches you resilience—that sense of coming back to something that originally did not go the way you wanted to, the fearlessness that it takes to not be too precious with your work so you can come back to it and make changes. Also, the whole idea of putting things out into the world and allowing people to have their own feelings about your work that you cannot control.
What would you like to see happen in Charlottesville to better support artists in our community?
I would love to do a Saturday where we get 20 artists to open up their studios. I think we have so much to learn from other people in our community. To have a day where we can open up people's spaces to the community.
What is currently on your studio/work desk?
What isn’t! My staples generally include having my sewing machine out. I love having my sewing machine and my studio together. I like having a space where I can make work and put it up on the wall. Not everything is good—I don’t judge it I just make it. Sometimes I put it up and I immediately know that it needs and some of it never gets shown ever. I also think there is a lot of value to the art of passive looking—to learning over time what a piece needs, what the next move needs to be. I really use my studio walls as a way of getting my work to a place where I can just look at it and experience it.
Many thanks to Kristen Finn for providing the first and last photos in this post.
The opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the artist and do not necessarily represent the policies or positions of NCAI.
Lou Haney was born in Decatur, Alabama. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Art with a Studio Concentration, cum laude from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, and her Master’s of Fine Art degree in Painting from Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. In 2009, Lou was fortunate to receive the Kate and George Kendall Fellowship to attend the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Lou Haney was the recipient of the Mississippi Art Commission Individual Artist Fellowship in 2008. Her work has been exhibited in solo shows in California, Virginia, Massachusetts, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Kentucky in over 60 juried group exhibitions.
Lou Haney moved to Charlottesville with her family in 2014 and currently teaches at Piedmont Virginia Community College and works at Second Street Gallery as an Outreach Coordinator.