Hannah Lee: “Think Wabi Sabi!”

The Art of Perfect Imperfection

Maastricht – The Creative Islander’s “Artist Edition Series” continues its road of featuring a range of diverse Aruban creative students and professionals locally and around the world. Today we are putting the spotlight on other dynamic industries within the Cultural & Creative Industries (CCIs), namely the Crafting Industry. Crafting over the years is becoming more popular in Aruba, especially now with the rise of local creative workshop spaces. Today, we are featuring Hannah Lee, a vibrant and artistic young professional who is sharing her love for art through her workshops with the community, which are located right here in Aruba. Read up all about Hannah’s story and find out how you can also participate in the crafting industry.

Hannah Lee, a 21 year old creative, was born in Aruba, but grew up both in Aruba and in the US. Besides crafting, Hannah enjoys exploring the island, watch Netflix shows, read books, photography, cooking and playing with the family’s beloved dogs, Fred and Trooper. In Aruba, Hannah attended Julianaschool, but then moved to the US with her family, where she attended the British School in Washington D.C. Not long after that she continued her education in Business Administration at the NOVA in Virginia. Fortunate for Hannah, part of her trajectory at NOVA meant obligatory creative classes. This is how Hannah’s love for clay and ceramics started. Part of her experience was not only practical, but included numerous visits to museums and galleries like the National Art Gallery, where students were encouraged to not only appreciate viewing art, but also discussing it. Hannah expressed: “I love to be expressive and creative. While living and studying in Washington DC and Virginia I had the opportunity to experience many of the museums and monuments they have over there. This has opened my eyes and mind to many new possibilities, ways of thinking and of gratitude”.

With Hannah’s move back to Aruba, it proved difficult to find a job. However, Hannah’s aunt noticed her talent for ceramics and encouraged Hannah to start giving pottery classes. Slowly but surely with tremendous support of her family, Hannah gained experience teaching the skills attached to her craft and has now developed a love for teaching art. “It is so satisfying to be able to help and give the tools to the participants of my workshops on how to express themselves with clay”.

Recently, the Creative Islander took notice of Hannah after she provided a ‘Wabi Sabi’ workshop to the elderly at ‘Club Kibrahacha 60+’. Hannah explained that her workshops are all about self-expression. The concept ‘Wabi Sabi’ stems from ancient Japanese philosophy and is used in a lot of artistic Asian craftsmanship and is the art of perfect imperfection. Her goal with her workshop was to show the elderly that imperfections are beautiful too. Overall Hannah said that, “all were eager to participate. A lot of talent waiting to be released. The final product was each a work of art. So much dedication and love went into them. I shared my clay skills with them and they shared their wisdom with me. I guided them with the tools for clay and they created the art”.

Upbringing
Hannah’s upbringing was full of culture and opportunities for artistic expression. Besides crafting Hannah was also exposed to other art forms. Hannah took drawing and painting lessons from both her aunt, Rosanna Koelewijn-Tromp at her atelier La Bonne Vie and at Atelier ’89 from one of Aruba’s gems, Mr. Nigel Matthew. She also, learned how to play the guitar from Mr. Ivan Jansen, and till this day music and composing plays an important part in her life.

Hannah credits her deep cultural upbringing to her parents who made artistic development a priority for their family. Together they loved visiting and attending different cultural events and institutions on the island, and did the same when they vacationed. Hannah’s mother, a very active professional in the cultural and educational sector in Aruba, provided Hannah with ample opportunities to volunteer. Examples of this include Hannah’s participation in the opening of the National Archeological Museum of Aruba located in Schelpstraat. Also, with the guidance of her talented aunt, Hannah participated in her first family art exhibition called “Art from the Heart” by the Tromp family and was their contribution to Aruba’s heritage. A complete success in the end. Also, Hannah was part of her aunt’s project at the ‘Centro di Cuido’ (Center of Care) for the elderly where she debuted her painting of the ‘Prikichi’ alongside 89 other painting by 107 different artists.

Remarkably, besides growing up with deep cultural and artistic roots, Hannah explained that her parents always taught her about the importance of giving back to the community. Over the years both in Aruba and in the US, Hannah has been an active volunteer. Now that she is back in Aruba, she organized a volunteer pottery workshop for a group people from ‘Tra’I Merdia’ (a public after school care organization) and together with her aunt also organized a volunteer clay workshop athe Open House at Terrafuse Glas and Ceramics. In the US, Hannah volunteered at a Toy Drive during the Christmas season for families of War Veterans. “A truly humbling experience” she stated. Hannah also volunteered at The Kennedy Center and was another great experience.

Hannah is such a beautiful example of the influence of art in not only raising compassionate and driven human beings, but is a testament of how art can be used as a means of reciprocity. In a community that is continuously facing social challenges, art can be used as a stepping stone to reach out and add positivity and creativity in the lives of people. “This lesson about giving back I have learned from my parents I think is a valuable lesson in sharing and working towards a community and a culture of caring. The ‘me’ is important, but the ‘we’ get things done”.

Creative and Artistic Skill Development
Creativity in Hannah’s opinion is a very important skill to have. Hannah feels that she was always creative and artistic, but it wasn’t until she moved to America that she learned much more. Shae stated: “I learned how to work with new materials, learned about art, learned about literature. Those subjects opened my eyes to creativity and critical thinking. I believe if you possess art you can think more creatively and critically how to get to a solution. Art is important for the expression of feelings as well. Some children struggle to express themselves and art can be their stepstool/outlet to expression”. In her perspective, all the drawing, painting and guitar lessons she took over the years, together with all the volunteer work in the cultural field she did and the cultural activities and institutions she experienced and visited helped her with cultivating and developing my creative skills and cultural knowledge. This means that creative and artistic development should start young, and should be encouraged by parents and educators.

Looking Towards the Future
With a busy schedule teaching ‘Wabi Sabi’ to the Aruban community, Hannah is hoping to start studying hospitality. She thinks “as Aruba is a very service oriented island and there is still a lot to be done, I would love to use my part of creativity in the hospitality business”. Besides devoting her time to her education, Hannah will continue in the arts by giving ceramic workshops and attending other creative workshops. Hannah encourages our artistic readers to “just go for it and do your thing. Think ‘Wabi Sabi’. Love and appreciate your own art. Do not worry if the first ones are not to your liking. Art is practice and dedication. Be inspired by others but please try not to copycat. We all try to make our own art. Express yourself your own way. Do not get discouraged. If opportunity does not knock on your door, do not wait too long. Start creating your own opportunity”.

The Creative Islander wishes Hannah all the best with her studies and her workshops. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us and for teaching us to think ‘Wabi Sabi’. For those who want to participate in one of Hannah’s workshops, follow her on Facebook for information on upcoming events.