California born, artist and environmentalist Hannah Day came to Paris this year to study French and to draw trees. A constant in Hannah’s work on both sides of the Atlantic, trees have extended their roots in this young artist’s life far beyond her sketchbooks. As a fruitarian, Hanna relies on trees for everything she eats. And she helps save the trees she paints by doing much of her work on used shopping bags and postcards. Her environmental concerns, green lifestyle, and artistic passions are spiritually grounded, if that’s the right word, in Hannah’s practice of ‘Flying’ yoga. Hannah is currently working on her first children’s book.
S&D: Why do you draw trees instead of sunsets, skyscrapers, or jam-jars?
H.D: Well, I didn’t really choose to draw trees. In fact, I resisted the idea for quite a while, beginning when I did one drawing in my freshman year of college in which trees were an essential element; I was hesitant because trees are a common subject… It ended up being the first drawing I ever completed that I felt was truly successful. At the time I thought my drawing’s success was despite the trees, not because of them. I realized that trees are only cliché the way a naked woman’s figure is cliché; artists have returned to them over and over for a reason.
S&D: You are a fruitarian, what role has this played in your artistic life?
H.D: It was when I began eating a diet based on raw, whole fruit that I truly became enamored with trees, and as a result, came to accept my habit of drawing them. Their being the source of every piece of succulent sustenance that I consume suddenly brought trees to life in a whole new way. My drawings became illustrations of my reverence for these beings that generously dispense bushels of delicious food. Fruit trees produce more calories per acre than any other crop, and are the only crop that gives back to the soil. At the same time, their branches provide shade and shelter to many a creature, including us, and their roots wind through the earth beneath them to offer stability to the surrounding terrain…The beauty of the simple existence of something so gracious as the fruit tree makes me feel an inexplicable joy which I feel may have saved my work from rolling down a more cynical road.
Next Time: Next week, poet Margaux Curcuru returns to interview Stacks & Dropper’s Charlie Daly about the orange typewriter series, sex, swimming, and Oscar Wilde.