March is Women’s History Month, a reminder to continually honor and respect women. Women have and are presently making an impact on the world.
Amber Hansen, a USD art professor, is one of many female professors at USD. Teaching art is a big part of her life, she said. Hansen has been involved in art her entire life as she began drawing at a young age.
“I knew that I would be creating works of art in one form or another,” Hansen said. “The first time I was introduced to drawing, it seemed like magic that somebody could create really whatever they wanted with a piece of paper and a pencil.”
At the University of Kansas, Hansen received her MFA in painting and drawing. At USD, Hansen received her BFA in painting and printmaking. She then went on to teach and has been teaching at USD for four years.
As a female artist, Hansen said she has seen how women have been misrepresented in the art world.
“A lot of female artists have been left out of history books and have not been given the amplification men have,” Hansen said.
Women’s History Month is vital for female artists, as well as all women, Hansen said, as women have been opening doors and paving the way for many years.
“Any door that you open for yourself you’re also opening that door for other people as well,” Hansen said. “The role of many artists today is opening doors for themselves so those doors are open for other people.”
Hansen said she found her passion for community-based art and started creating murals in high school she said.
“I really fell in love with working with communities and working with people outside of the established high art world,” Hansen said. “Hearing people’s stories and collaborating on creating works of art with the people in the form of murals really drew me in.”
Hansen has worked on several different mural projects throughout her life as a painter and a leader, including the Vermillion Community Mural Project.
“Creating murals felt and still feels very authentic, relevant, radical and important,” Hansen said.
She is currently working with the Vermillion Cultural Association to create community-based art through the creation of the Vermillion Mural Project.
“The ideas represented in the mural were designed and created by the people from the community who came together to tell stories and draw pictures together,” Hansen said.
Fundraising for the second two-part project will go on throughout March and the second part of the mural will begin this May.
A unified community is vital to a successful mural project, Hansen said.
“Collaboration, community and engagement are embedded in the fabric of the community and that’s what makes these projects so successful and fun to work on,” Hansen said.
The community of Vermillion is one of the main focal points inspiring Hansen in her creative works she said.
“I draw inspiration from everything,” Hansen said. “In my personal work, I’m inspired by looking deeply and thoughtfully at the culture, traditions and people of this place.”
The contemporary art world is more welcoming of female artists, Hansen said.
“There has been more acceptance, appreciation and awareness of women creating work,” Hansen said. “The art world is expanding to become more accepting of different perspectives, aesthetics and viewpoints”
Men and women have not seen the same sense of equality but Hansen said she hopes that will change in the coming years.
“I would love to see women creating whatever they want to create in whatever form and to feel comfortable and confident in sharing,” Hansen said. “Women don’t have to be one thing; we’re multidimensional and celebrating the many dimensions of every human is so important.”