Press / Meet the Maker

Moira Hahn - January, 2021

Moira Hahn has exhibited her fine art throughout the US, with a few shows in Japan and Canada. She holds a BFA in Drawing and Painting and later studied printmaking at Otis Art Institute, and other art curricula at California State University, Fullerton, where she earned an MFA in 2000.

In Asian art, she draws inspiration from Persian miniatures, Tibetan Thanka paintings, Japanese Ukiyo-e prints, Indian animal drawings and Chinese guardian figures. Western art that informs her work includes the documentary art of Explorer/ Scientist painters including Martin Johnson Heade, John James Audobon and Karl Bodmer. She’s also traveled all over the Southwest to study petroglyphs, pictographs and Native American visual culture.

How'd you get your start? What steps did you take to initially set yourself apart?
I was named for a British ballerina, Moira Shearer, the star of the movie “The Red Shoes”. When I was five, my sister’s ballet teacher took a look at my flat, duck-like feet, and told my mom I could never be a ballerina. I decided, that day, that I would become an artist. It wasn’t a consolation prize, I truly wanted to be an artist but felt sorry for letting my mom down.

At age fifteen, I started to study drawing, illustration and life drawing (figure drawing) at the Maryland Institute College of Art, a private art college in Baltimore. It provided classical training in all media, art history and anatomical grounding that focused my creative drive. All of the sudden, I was not the ‘class artist’, as I’d been for ten years; I was the youngest, most naïve and worst artist in class. It taught me hard work and humility. I enjoyed the challenge, so I dropped out of high school at sixteen to attend art college full-time.

“One of my dad’s work associates commissioned me to do 25 drawings, for $25, when I was a kid. That was thrilling.”

Has rejection ever affected your creative process?
For years, I was rejected because I was judged too young. Then it was my gender, or my race. Or the committee didn’t understand my statement, gave conflicting guidance about explaining why support was requested, and/or my education and/or training were judged inadequate.

Do you believe formal training in your field is necessary to success? What kinds of jobs did you have leading up to the start of your creative venture?
I don’t believe so, but I also do not believe it destroys, corrupts or incapacitates talent. One does need to align with capable instructors, who like to teach, and who show respect. Survival jobs included working at a Pizza Hut, at an outdoor sports supply store, hand painting ceramic pins, catering, drawing portraits and caricatures at resorts, a car rental agency, in-betweening (animation), creating illustrations for the Pushpin Group, and teaching art.

My favorite outdoor activity ... "Walking the dog, she enjoys variety, so she gets us out of the house and frequently out of our neighborhood. [My workspace] looks like we love dogs."

If you could move to any other place in this or any universe where would you go?
I would like to go to a place where art is a true meritocracy. Artists would be rewarded commensurate with their contributions, not limited by age, gender, ethnicity, race, political or religious affiliations or beliefs. This would be a place where art and art making are understood to be as important as medicine, law, politics, commerce, physics, technology and scientific research … This fictitious place would not be subject to climate change; it would be an oasis where one could walk through ancient, healthy forests, and live on the edge of a peaceful body of clean water. Everyone would have equal access to resources, look out for each other, and cherish and protect the beauty of the planet.