“I’ve lost count, but I think it’s safe to say I’ve had more than 70 surgeries during my life,” Hannah said.
Born with VACTERL Association, congenital disabilities that affect multiple parts of the body, Hannah Baker faced many physical challenges as a child. The surgeries expanded her rib cage to help her breathe more easily and take the strain off of her heart. Hannah’s last surgery was in 2018, and she began taking classes at OTC that same year.
Homeschooled her entire life, Hannah wasn’t sure how she would do in the more structured atmosphere of in-person college classes, but she flourished and learned new skills. Then, she found her way to one of Kat Allie’s art classes.
“Until I arrived at OTC, most of my art education was self-taught,” Hannah said. “I mostly used watercolors and pencils at home. In college, I had more access to painting tools and supplies. Kat saw my work and encouraged me to become an art major.”
It didn’t take long for Hannah’s talents to shine. Her work focuses mainly on portraits and the human form, and Hannah’s given those pieces a unique look. One friend said her paintings were “like butter” because they feature smooth brush strokes, curvilinear shapes and mellow colors. Last summer, Hannah was among a select group of OTC art students featured in a show at Obelisk Home in downtown Springfield.
“Watching Hannah grow her techniques and original creative voice as an artist has been a privilege for me as her painting instructor,” said Allie, department chair for art and humanities at OTC. “I’m so proud of Hannah’s work ethic, professionalism, and true creative spirit. Hannah’s journey into art and her visual expressions of shared human experience are making our world a more beautiful place to live.”
Hannah desires to create paintings that offer insight to a heart separated and longing for connection. They demonstrate what it can be like to live with a disability. Her challenges have shaped her perspective, and she communicates that worldview by focusing her work on people.
“I’m fascinated by the human form for the sake of understanding it,” Hannah said. “I think bodies are beautiful and so vastly different and lovely. I love painting them.”