relandscaped mind (2021)
Oil on canvas
42 x 53 inches
This painting represents the magical, lush space that is your mind. It touches on themes of radical imagining, new horizons, growing and cultivating a new mental state. I see the characters here as having reclaimed their inner power and declared their own state of mind–one that is profoundly abundant. It represents the rich earth of your innermost being. It also reminds me of some kind of post-apocalyptic world, where the women depicted have found a new place to set up home and establish a new way of being. This painting is included in my show an exit from this room and others like it at Ochi Projects that opens on March 27, 2021. The show is a meditation on this concept that you choose the thoughts that stay in your mind and what you give your mental energy to and therein lies your own power. Together, the pieces from the show work to serve as a visual narrative of the liberation of one's mind.
Hana Ward is a painter and ceramicist from Los Angeles, Calif. Ward’s paintings often touch on themes of liberation, introspection and diaspora. Through her landscape paintings, Ward documents focal yet disappearing parts of her native city while her portraits often depict women navigating various layers of their consciousness. Her work has been described as, “sometimes sad, sometimes funny but always intriguingly equivocal” by ArtNews.
Ward’s recent solo exhibitions include “what was there all along” (2020) at Ochi Projects in Los Angeles, and “sing about me” (2019) at Harun Gallery in Los Angeles. Recent group exhibitions include “Mutual Friends” (2020) in Oakland, Calif., “Giant Robot Post-It Show (2019) and “Animating the Archives” (2017) in Los Angeles. Ward’s upcoming show “an exit from this room and others like it” opens March 2021 at Ochi Projects in Los Angeles.
Artist Q & A
Tell me a little bit about how your relationship to nature and to your body in natural spaces has changed during these times.
I have become a walker since the pandemic. That is my main source of exercise and clearing my mind. I'm trying to make this a lifelong practice. I do it mostly for the health of it, like the endorphins and also just to get that exercise in. There are certain things that I'll notice that influence my day sometimes, or even my work.
Lately, I've been really into birds on my walks. I drive to the park in View Park and then I walk the hills over there. So, I'm taking the same street, but I feel like every time I see a new bird that's a different bird than the day before.
That’s just something I’ve been fortunate enough to discover in this time. Taking walks and noticing things actually suits my personality. I'm obsessed with a certain, fuzzy grass. There are certain houses that have it. It’s like a fuzzy, lumpy ground covering, and it’s so beautiful. I'll go over to those houses specifically just to look at it.
There’s this idea of L.A. being very much about cars and skyscrapers and concrete. But when you’re walking to get to see nature peeking through. Are there any motifs that you’ve noticed lately?
I’ve been loving seeing birds that are coasting — watching them, how they flap and then coast for a while. How they catch that wind without having to move. It's been really interesting to me.
Whether you're walking or even driving, one of the things I love about Los Angeles is that there's so much going on. You can say “no one walks in L.A.” and “L.A. is just superficial or is about who you know,” or whatever kind of stereotypes that people say, but I don't think you can actually walk the streets looking around and say something like that.
During your usual walks, what grabs you about the nature that’s there?
I’ve more so been contemplating joy and what that means and what that feels like. I love it when someone will plant certain cacti, or flowers or something that matches with the house or the building. The colors play off of each other. And I always like to stop and stare at that.
That’s where my mind goes when I see something in nature on these walks that I appreciate. I've even been trying to not take photos — to stand there and feel the appreciation. And just enjoy it in that moment.
That reminds me of your piece which is a “re-landscaped mind.” Can you tell me a little bit about that?
I came across this quote by Lauret Savoy: "For if the health of the land is in its capacity for self-renewal, then the health of the human family could, in part, be an intergenerational capacity for locating ourselves within many inheritances...” That’s been in my mind. She’s strictly talking about actual land, but because I've been thinking about this recreating your mental space as truly like a beautiful garden that you want to be in and walk through that helps you thrive. Hearing that makes me think about how our minds are regenerative.
I think about the mind as the soil and the thoughts as what grows there. Just meditating on that idea of the health of yourself, even, being tied to how you tend to your mind and what grows there. Not letting negative thoughts get too stuck or overgrown.