Journal: Fix Your Gaze

Kia’Rae Hanron 


(she/her)
Website︎︎︎
Instagram︎︎︎




I am 25 years old,born and raised in Montpelier, moved to Burlington in 2014 to attend UVM, and have been here ever since.

As an artist, I feel supported by the Vermont community. As an individual, I feel supported by the Vermont community. And as a Black woman, I feel supported by my immediate community: those I’ve chosen to surround myself with. But I would not say the Vermont community fully supports me as a Black woman. I can’t even say my current city supports me as a Black woman. There is a lot of work to be done in Burlington and throughout the entire state of Vermont. I am grateful to have found people to surround myself with who uplift and celebrate every part of me while we do that work together. My current creative community is actually mostly comprised of Black poets and spoken word artists. Since graduating UVM spring 2020, I haven’t had much contact with any particular visual arts communities. I think that may be in part due to COVID and not being able to be out in the community.

I’ve always loved drawing and painting, and in the last few years I’ve gotten into digital artwork. I don’t have access to a studio space to work with wet paint or other messy mediums, so being able to use programs like Adobe Fresco to create paintings from home has been amazing. Though I love working digitally, nothing can ever replace the feeling of working with live paint. I love spending twelve hours at a time fully immersed in painting一nothing else exists but me, the music, the surface, and the paint. There’s an immediate and very therapeutic catharsis for me as I manipulate paint and push it around the canvas. It’s as though with every molecule of paint left behind, I’m leaving behind the things that I no longer need to take with me. I can let go of pain, anger, and resentment without forgetting because I still have a visual record of that process, even if I’m the only one who can translate it. My art is my history. I also love creative writing, specifically free-verse poetry and prose.

I mainly like creating images of people, specifically women. These days, I’m very into drawing and painting WOC. This is usually where I draw my inspiration from. In a broader sense, though, I find inspiration everywhere. I can’t look at anything without seeing each visual detail that contributes to its appearance. I can stare at a blank wall for an hour, completely enthralled by the shapes made from the shadows of barely visible streaks of paint. I love to break things down to their most basic elements—line, shape, form, color, value, pattern, texture, space—and analyze how each small part contributes to what's next to, behind, in front of, before, and after; and how they combine to create something, beautiful or not. When my depression is bad, being able to dissect and pull out the beauty in random things I see helps me cope and move through what I’m feeling.

...As a Black woman, I feel supported by my immediate community, those I’ve chosen to surround myself with. But I would not say the Vermont community fully supports me as a Black woman—I can’t even say my current city supports me as a Black woman. There is a lot of work to be done in Burlington and throughout the entire state of Vermont.
I currently work for the Clemmons Family Farm, an arts and culture nonprofit organization. I am the K-12 Arts Learning Advisor as well as a Teaching Artist. We have just wrapped up piloting the first stage of our Windows to a Multicultural World online learning platform, which is an art-based history curriculum centered around African American and African Diaspora content. We have Black teaching artists, all of African descent and all of whom are current residents in Vermont一I am also one of these artists. In collaboration with my supervisor and team members, I develop and facilitate arts and culture workshops with K-12 students. It’s a dream job for me to be able to work with kids, teach art and social justice, and to have the opportunity to assist in designing and implementing a K-12 multicultural arts-based curriculum for the state of Vermont, a curriculum that can help Black students here have a better school experience and more connection to their heritage than I did growing up Biracial in the second-whitest state in the nation.

My mood that day, and the weather determine what type of music I play to get into a creative mood. I have sunny day playlists, rainy day playlists, playlists for when I want to pretend I’m on a tropical island nowhere near Vermont…Tobe Nwigwe, specifically Make It Home, Eat, Against the Grain, and Caged Bird. Instrumental versions of pop songs, and contemporary remixes of classical instrumental music.

Motown and Doo-Wop music. I have a page on my website dedicated to my artmaking music.

I was struggling so much emotionally in part because I was trying to resist the natural flow of my brain—once I accepted that I will always see every detail, always analyze visual cause and effects, and always be outwardly excited by the complexity of it all, I was able to let go of all the weighty boxes I didn’t quite fit into and feel the full benefit of the chaos in my brain.2