Mental Stills

Twin Rivers Council for the Arts will be hosting a new photography exhibit by Mankato artist Hanna Newman titled 'Mental Stills.' The exhibition will feature black and white photographs taken over two years capturing varying states of mental being. Photo courtesy of Twin Rivers Council for the Arts

MANKATO — For 22-year-old photographer Hanna Newman, cataloging various states of her own mental being has been a process of self-discovery as much as it has been art. 

An exhibition hosted by the Twin Rivers Council for the Arts features more than two years of her work. The photographs were taken in multiple settings, such as the northern woods of Minnesota, abandoned houses and Newman’s own personal spaces, and represent moments of well-being, distortion, narcissism, self-loathing, logic, nonsense, happiness and depression.

The collection is called "Mental Stills." 

"The idea for 'Mental Stills' came about when I was looking through the work that I've done during my undergrad at (Minnesota State University)," Newman said.

She has a large film collection from when she started taking photos during her second year. A ceramic and printmaking major, she had always looked as photography as more of a "hobby" than anything else, acting spontaneously when taking pictures and not always viewing them as art.  

But, "when looking back on my photographs recently, I noticed a pattern of different states of mental being in each photograph due to that spontaneity," she said. "I feel that while taking these photographs based purely on intuition, I inevitably included my subconscious and as a result got a photographic reflection of my mental self."

Still figuring out who she is, Newman said she thinks looking inward is important, if not essential for someone her age. 

Joellen Preston, gallery coordinator for the arts council, said from what she's seen of Newman's art, "there's a haunting narrative to her work, the way she has the figure interacting with the background." 

The pictures will be displayed at the Emy Frentz Arts Guild Gallery from Thursday to Nov. 18. An opening reception for the show will be held 5-8 p.m. Thursday. 

Newman said she hopes visitors understand the emotion conveyed by her work and use it as a cue to step back and acknowledge themselves. She personally looks at the photos and is reminded of aspects of herself that often get forgotten or go unnoticed. 

"I feel that there is room in my photography for the viewer to make a connection with," Newman said. "It can (raise) questions regarding subconscious aspects of the mind in regards of the self or of others. Self acknowledgment is important in a healthy mentality, and I hope to bring this into awareness through my work." 

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Jessica here, doing some coffee-fueled reporting for the Mankato Free Press. My beat? Education, colleges, LEARNING. Feel free to contact me with questions, comments and story ideas.