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Flatlands exhibit showcases young artist's complex compositions and color

The Carroll County Times

January 24, 2018


Artist Hannah Leighton’s goal is to bring joy to people when they look at her paintings. To accomplish this, she uses a bright, upbeat palette and a lot of movement in the composition of her work.

“Hannah’s work is really timely and in dialogue with other contemporary artists. I foresee a bright future for her. This is a peek into the early career of what I hope is a very successful artist,” said Izabel Galliera, curator of The Rice Gallery at McDaniel College. “I hope viewers take time with each of these canvases to discover the different layers. The way she layers lines and different elements like flower motifs give the paintings a visual complexity. There’s also this sense of enveloping the viewer through their scale.”

Leighton’s work will be featured in McDaniel College's Department of Art and Art History’s exhibit “Flatlands” Jan. 25 through Feb. 23 in The Rice Gallery in Peterson Hall. The opening reception will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 25 with a Gallery Talk beginning at 6 p.m.

Leighton, 26, is an artist living and working in Baltimore. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in May 2015 from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). After graduation, Leighton spent a month at Green Olive Arts in Morocco where she studied painting.

Rice Gallery director Steven Pearson said Leighton’s work was chosen because it “would be good for McDaniel students to see a young artist at such an early stage of her career pushing her work to that level.”

“I like the complexity of her compositions and her use of color. The combination of the two made for some arresting painting,” Pearson said. “She really thinks about how to work with the space. It’s compelling. It shows the state of current abstract painting.”

As a child, Leighton said she was always drawing or crafting with her mother. She didn’t really take art seriously until her freshman year of college at Mount Holyoke in Massachusetts. She took a painting class and found she couldn’t leave her easel.

“I was so drawn to it,” Leighton said. “I took a leap and applied to MICA. The school gave me the resilience and willingness to stick with my passion.”

Leighton said she used to do portraits of characters from “The Wire.” A professor told her if she kept it up, he would throw them out the window.

“He helped me take the leap from working figuratively to exploring abstraction,” she said.

Leighton said most of her work starts in a similar way.