Hannah Muller

Class of 2020

Meraki — when you leave a piece of yourself in your work. Soft and feminine; intense and unapproachable; minimalist and abstracted. All of these adjectives coalesce to describe my art. My work and the motivations behind why I make it is complex. As a whole, sculpting with clay is a cathartic process that reveals my inner thoughts and feelings. This body of work is specifically vulnerable as it deals with the emotional turmoil of rebuilding my identity after my dad’s unexpected death, and the raw emotion that was kept hidden from others’ view. The sculpting of the figures I create is a literal and metaphorical rebirth of who I was. It was a re-founding of my psyche, my self-image, and who I wanted to be as an individual moving forward in my new, drastically altered life.

The rounded shape of my forms also explores the complexities of femininity and the feminine form itself. Females are stereotypically thought of as soft and gentle, similarly to how one thinks of a sphere. I use this shape to represent how I was told to feel when in reality, all I felt was jagged and broken after losing my dad. All of the figures represent various states of being that I felt while grieving and subsequently healing. Standing from a distance one might see something vulnerable, yearning to comfort it. Upon further inspection however, the object you once thought to be vulnerable is in truth cold, jagged, and stand-offish towards the world, herself, and her art. Through a long and arduous journey, healing became possible, and the unthinkable evolved into reality. The abstracted forms represent healing and acceptance through the colored, rounded shapes. They exude warmth and elysian peace. Not completely soft and feminine, but also no longer intense and unapproachable. 


Growing up in a conservative area in the rural city of Hagerstown, Maryland, Hannah Muller had a set of expectations placed before her on how to act and exist as a female. This along with the unexpected death of her father at the age of fifteen drastically altered how she viewed herself as an individual. The rounded forms of her body of work and explore her personal definition and expression of femininity in the wake of her ‘new’ life. Needles are used around the figures as a representation of her mental state during the time of her grieving. Despite the spikes, her pieces are designed in size and shape to invoke a sense of vulnerability. The figures want to be held, but if one gets too close, they will get pricked by the various placement of the needles. 

Hannah has worked in a professional gallery on the Emory & Henry campus for 3 years, giving her not only curatorial practice, but also the opportunity to work with and converse with a large variety of artists that have exhibited at the gallery. Continuing her collegiate education at Emory & Henry College, Hannah works towards improving and expanding her portfolio to be able to start work right out of college as an artist with her own ceramic studio.

My work and the motivations behind why I make it is complex. As a whole, sculpting with clay is a cathartic process that reveals my inner thoughts and feelings. 

—Hannah Muller