Meet the First Emerging Artist Fellows
foundation | July 14, 2016
We are launching the pilot year of our Emerging Artist Fellowship program with two early-career fellows working in West Virginia. Rosalie Haizlett is a graphic designer and illustrator from the northern panhandle of the state who will be graduating in December of 2016 with a B.S. in Graphic Design at West Liberty University. Hannah Lenhart is a ceramicist from Fairmont, West Virginia who will be graduating in May of 2017 with a B.A. in Studio Art and a B.S. in Business at Fairmont State University.
As part of the fellowship program, Rosalie and Hannah will receive training and mentoring to translate their academic successes into viable career paths, learn from experts in their fields, and each will be presented with the chance to exhibit work at a West Virginia arts institution.
Here, we ask Rosalie and Hannah a few questions about their creative careers thus far.
Tamarack Foundation for the Arts: How did you get started creating artwork and designing, and what went into your decision to elect this as your major at school?
Rosalie Haizlett: I’ve loved drawing and designing for as long as I can remember. I have sketchbooks with logos and t-shirt designs that I created when I was 8 years old. My dad and grandfather are both artists, so I grew up going to art galleries, touring design firms, and attending painting workshops. My dad’s constant encouragement allowed me to believe that I could have a successful future in the art field, so I never really doubted my desire to become an artist. The skills and confidence I gained as a student at the West Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts gave me further confirmation that I was following the right path. I chose my major because I love the way that combining graphic design and illustration allows me to manipulate traditional art forms in order to communicate to a wider audience.
Hannah Lenhart: Art was just something that I always did. I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t known as “that art kid” in school. My parents were the ones who supported my passion for art growing up. I was primarily a 2-D artist until I reached middle school, and then was introduced to polymer clay. I didn’t start working with ceramics until my second semester of college when I took my first pottery class. At that time, I was considering going through the 2-D (painting and drawing) track at school, so ceramics wasn’t something on my radar; I wasn’t even aware that Fairmont State offered pottery. I got hooked on it and pottery quickly became my focus.
The summer before I started college, I wasn’t sure which major I wanted to try. Art, of course, was a significant part of my life, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t have a future in it. In high school, I took a career test, and it said that I should go into nursing. I was scared and didn’t know what else to do, so I decided to look into the nursing program. One day, my dad walked by me and noticed what I was researching. He laughed and said, “You’re not a nurse, you’re an artist.” He gave me a dad pep talk, and I decided to sign my papers for the art program. A year later, I decided that I wanted a business degree as well because I wanted to make a business out of my art and needed to be prepared.
TFA: What inspires your work and creative process?
RH: I believe that in order to be a relevant artist, it’s crucial to be fully engaged in all aspects of life. As tempting as it might be to hole up in a studio and create, we must be curious and seek to fully understand the world we live in. The summer after my freshman year of college, I decided to move to France for a few months. I was a fairly reserved person, so this was a scary, but necessary, challenge. Staying with a host family and learning a beautiful new language while surrounded by art and ancient architecture every day made me realize how much we miss out on if we don’t take risks.
Since then, I’ve been able to study abroad in Cyprus and South Korea, and my heart, mind, and artwork have been so enriched by the incredible cultures and people that I’ve encountered. But traveling is only one avenue by which I seek to understand the world. I’ve learned that it is also incredibly inspiring to observe and connect with the people of my own town and state. It is important for me to keep up on both local and international news. And it’s also important that I spend time in nature. Our state is so beautiful, and there are few things as inspiring to me as taking a walk through my family’s farm.
HL: I’m a huge fan of social media and constantly look for new artists. I search through pottery tags on Instagram and YouTube to find new artists and tutorials. I keep a book with pictures and ideas that I find and use it as a resource when I’m feeling stuck.
I also love sketching. During some of my less interesting business classes I find myself doodling teapot ideas in the margins of my notes. My fellow business majors often poke fun at me for it, but I get my favorite ideas from looking at shapes of furniture in the room and find color schemes from looking at my classmates’ clothing.
3-D sketching is another technique that I use. Some days in the studio when I’m feeling stuck, I like to throw a variety of different shapes and then put them on top of each other to create a final dynamic form. This is the most stressful for me because I like having a set plan, but I feel that my stronger works come from this technique because the shapes created are so unique.
TFA: What are your hopes and dreams for your career after you finish school?
RH: Behind each great business is a group of people with passion and a story. My goal is to honor that passion by working alongside them to tell their story through beautiful and unique design work. I want to work with companies that are bettering the world and contributing to our communities. I’ve also got my eyes set on creating the signage and menus for a coffee shop or restaurant, painting murals in towns that could use some brightening up, writing and illustrating a children’s book, and creating powerful design work for a nonprofit that I believe in. I am flexible. I just want to continue to learn, work with great people, and create beautiful work!
HL: The answer I usually give to this question is, “I don’t know, but I think I’m heading in the right direction.” I know art is my passion so I want to have a career in it somehow. It’s difficult to have a plan because I don’t know what my options are. I currently work in a small ceramic shop in Fairmont, Mountain Creative, and I’m very happy there. I plan on staying at the shop for a while, learning more about business and creating my art. My focus right now is learning and gaining as much experience as I can so that I may better equip myself for the future.
About the Fellows
Rosalie Haizlett is a graphic designer and illustrator from the northern panhandle of West Virginia who will be graduating in December of 2016 with a B.S. in Graphic Design at West Liberty University. She specializes in combining sophisticated design with lively, hand-drawn illustrations to create work that is completely unique and customized to her clients’ needs. Rosalie is inspired by connecting with people from other cultures and backgrounds and spending time in the stillness of nature. Apart from her time as a student at West Liberty University, she has also studied abroad in France, Cyprus, and South Korea. Find more about the artist at rosaliehaizlett.com.
Hannah Lenhart is a Fairmont, West Virginia native who will be graduating in May of 2017 with a B.A. in Studio Art and a B.S. in Business at Fairmont State University. She predominately works in ceramics and is focusing on creating functional yet whimsical tea sets. Hannah is very disciplined about her work and aspires to establish a successful business with her unique style of pottery. Outside of her academic studies she works at Mountain Creative, a ceramic studio, where she is gaining experience and establishing relationships in both art and business.
The Tamarack Foundation for the Arts thanks the BB&T West Virginia Foundation for their generous support of the Emerging Artist Fellowship program.