Spotlight: Hammerspace Gallery
Hailey Suydam of Hammerspace Gallery
An interview with founder of Hammerspace Gallery, why she decided to create a mobile art gallery---the inspiration behind it, the type of artists and work she'll showcase.
Who is involved in Hammerspace Gallery?
Just me, I'm a one-woman operation.
What's your background in art? How did art making first find its way into your life?
I attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio where I majored in 3 & 4 Dimensional studies and Minored in Psychology. I spent half of my college career as a glass blowing major before being asked the question "why make this out of glass?" when I didn't have a good answer to this question I realized I needed the freedom to use any material aligned with my concept for the work. My art is very thought driven, often inspired by psychology, physics, and linguistics. I eventually found myself as an installation artist, making connections between pieces and creating environments suited my process and goals with my art.
Do you have a favorite artist(s), in general, and/or right now?
I think art has always been a part of me, connections and ideas have always been easier to convey through an artistic language. I believe this feeling is very much linked to having dyslexia, reading and writing did not capture how I was processing the world around me. I have always made objects have always collected "trash" I found precious. I am not sure there is a definitive moment it started.
Rockstars like James Turrell and Marina Abromovic will always be a couple of my favorites, I love the way they think about art and presentation. Making art something you experience instead of just look at will always be something I strive to do and I often look to their work as a reminder. I think with so much art being online I am always finding inspiring artists and new favorites. It's hard to keep track of everyone!
When did Hammerspace Gallery start and what's the inspiration behind it?
I originally had the idea for a mobile art gallery a few years ago when I was looking for a low cost and easily accessible way to show art. At that moment I did not have enough time to give to the project but about six months ago I was laid off from work and it felt like an opportunity to focus on my art. I was scrolling through Craigslist when a cheap 4x8 flatbed trailer caught my eye... that's when my idea for a mobile art gallery resurfaced and this time there was nothing holding me back so I went for it!
What are the reasons and motivating factors for wanting to create an art space?
Selfishly, the largest driving factor for me is having an opportunity to show my art. Like a lot of artists I'm pretty introverted so putting myself out there is really intimidating. It's hard to be okay with rejection. I know I am not unique in feeling this way so I am driven to give my peers a platform to show their work as well. Ultimately I didn't want to be forced to depend on other people in order to fulfill my goals so I needed to create something that was mine.
What type of artists and artwork will Hammerspace Gallery highlight?
Hammerspace is focused on emerging artists, I think in smaller cities it is easy to feel like the same artists are shown, again and again, I want to get some new talented voices out there. I'm interested in every medium, I appreciate shows that are multidimensional, the more senses involved the better.
Why do you think it's important to create art spaces in your community?
Art is about exposing truth, I believe this is essential to in order for humans to keep growing and transcending. Unfortunately, I don't think art feels widely accessible and I think galleries can fall short in reminding people why art is important. I feel a duty to help and get a wider audience involved.
What are some of the challenges you've faced with starting your own art space?
There are so many! For me, the first challenge I had to overcome was raising funds in order to build Hammerspace. The cost was very minimal but for an artist that lives paycheck to paycheck, it was a stretch. I'm so grateful crowdfunding exists, this would have felt a little out of reach otherwise.
By far the hardest part has been building it myself, I have carpentry experience but I had never built a travel trailer or tiny home before so I was a little out of my element, it took a ton of planning and a lot of patience. Everything takes longer than you think, however long you think something will take… double it.
Could you tell us about your experience running a crowd-funding campaign? Do you have advice or lessons you learned from doing it?
Launching a crowdfunding campaign was pretty intimidating for me, I have never been someone with a large internet presence and I was worried that would really be a setback. I tapped as many resources as possible and asked for back up with sharing the link. I was surprised that most of my support came from people I had never met! I really confirmed that this idea was a good one and worth working hard for. My advice to anyone thinking about creating a crowdfunding campaign is using all of your resources, do research (there are so many articles on the subject), get friends and family members on board before you start and ask for their help through the duration of the campaign.
What have you learned from creating and having an art space?
I'm constantly reminded that there are so many small things that go into running a space and creating exhibitions, it's easy to overlook all of the logistics and coordination until you meet it head-on. There is a learning curve with everything and everyone is different so I think the lesson is in patience.
Where do you plan to have Hammerspace located at? Will there be one designated place, or will you travel around to different venues?
Hammerspace will travel around to different venues. I will be posting a loose schedule on Instagram and the website this will tell you what neighborhood the gallery will be in the coming weekends. I will post my exact location once I have parked in the given neighborhood. Very excited about the response I have gotten from the public when I have parked. A lot of people are confused at first but I have had some really in-depth conversations about the art. So far most of the people I have talked to do not attend regular gallery openings, so this is an audience that was not previously engaged!
Is there anything exciting you have coming up for Hammerspace Gallery that you can share with us?
July is a really exciting month! Hammerspace will be launching for the first time and I'm testing the waters with my own solo exhibition titled Veil’s. This show will feature a video installation that teaches the audience a “language of light”. Then in August, I have curated a show featuring Sarah Abbott a local photographer whose use of photography has aspects of durational performance as well as map making. I have shows lined up through November all of which I am really excited about. I will be updating the Hammerspace website, Instagram and Patreon with show schedules so you can come to find the pop-ups!