Hasani Sahlehe

Portrait, Hasani Sahlehe [photo: Caleb Jamel Brown; courtesy of the artist]

ART PAPERS: Where do you look for inspiration?

Hasani Sahlehe: It’s important to me to keep up with what other artists are making. Seeing the way other makers engage ideas or make aesthetic choices is always refreshing. Memories also inspire me. I often cycle through my recollections of events. Sometimes, I imagine what other people’s experiences were like and create a narrative. Lastly, I’m deeply inspired by song. I enjoy learning about various cultures, periods, and philosophies through music.

AP: How do you know when a work is finished? 

HS: Generally, I consider a work finished when it arrives at a visually or otherwise challenging state. Several of my favorite pieces left me uneasy when I first “completed” them. But I’ve learned to appreciate this tension because my perspective has changed on so many works. Occasionally, there’ll be pieces that just seem to flow out of me. Their level of finish is much easier to determine and my appreciation is more immediate. These works appeal to me because they have a “fell out of the sky” quality.

AP: Describe your studio when you’re working. Do you listen to music or do you need quiet? Is it nighttime or early morning? Is it messy or organized? Do you like to have friends around or do you prefer to be alone? Do you have specific snacks?

HS: All of the above except for having company. I’m intentional about the stimuli that I consume while working because I’m in a vulnerable state when I’m in the studio. There are lots of inspiration images, unfinished pieces, fresh surfaces, and plenty of materials. I like messy garments and studios that aren’t precious and that have space to move around and switch back and forth between pieces.

AP: What is the most important tool you use to create your work?  

HS: My body is my biggest asset. It may seem like an obvious answer, and it is. But, there’s a quote, “art connects the head, hand, and heart.” I’m most grateful for my ability to feel, process, and produce. I can create with anything because of these attributes. However, I spend most of my time with acrylic paint. It’s a dynamic medium. You can apply it to a variety of surfaces and it is infinitely manipulatable.


Learn more about Hasani by visiting www.hasanisahlehe.com, or follow Hasani on Instagram @sahlehe.

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