Turkish visual artist Hair of Medusa is an evocative artist who combines freedom and sophistication, rebelliousness and nobility. In her most recent work, HoM collapses the boundary between dreams and memories through scenes that become dreams-as-memories or memories-as-dreams.
We sat down together (over a shared Google Doc) to get some answers to burning questions we’ve had about this MakersPlace staff favorite and rising star in the crypto art world.
MP: Can you describe one artwork or series from your oeuvre that you feel was pivotal in your artistic practice?
HoM: I can say that the ROOM series, which I like to work with recently, is very important for me. I care about this not because it is different in terms of technique and style but because it stems from experience that has been lived directly. I can define my art as adapting to the daily experience (and progress) of life.
MP: Your work often features faceless human figures — or at least bodies with heavily distorted or masked faces. Do these figures have identities for you? Or are they more Everywoman/Everyman?
HoM: I paint blank faces for those who don’t or can’t live their lives fully. Yes they all have an identity for me but these characters are never happy or sad enough. I present fragments of their lives and destinies as their permanent realities rather than temporary passages to try and capture dark aspects of the human condition.
MP: The dense colors, narrow hallways, and encroaching that so often features in your work gives quite the claustrophobic impression. Is that an intentional mood or does it arise quite naturally? (Was any of this inspired by nearly two years of COVID-related lockdowns?)
HoM: Actually, the most direct inspiration for the design of the “room” series was the earthquake we experienced in my city of Izmir. We had to leave our house and I observed the emotions of many earthquake survivors who stayed in the relief tent and the memories of their lost homes. After the harsh realities I encountered in those periods of my life I started to think;
Was it the people in our lives who made our lives important? Or was it where they lived that mattered?
Was it the sunlight filtering through the window that made the room beautiful? Or was the important thing the forgotten flower vase in the corner?
Was it the old items that made us feel alive? Or do we feel alive because we see ourselves in the mirror?
It’s like we’re all walking on an old wooden bridge that swings wildly between sides of the world; if we can’t find anything to hold on to, we fall off into the void.
Now imagine the room where your crib was when you were a child. Can you remember? Where and how did your mother first love you? Can you remember where you made love for the first time? So where and how did you end your life?
Memories that make me think of all this begin and end in rooms
I just wanted to stop thinking about my own darkness and lack of direction and the claustrophobia I felt in my own life.
And I believed the only way to change my destiny in life was by projecting it somewhere else …
MP: Can you speak to the natural elements that arise in your room pieces? In each one, we seem to be in a manmade enclosed space, but the natural world intrudes: a goat here, a waterfall there, naked tree branches or bursts of autumn leaves erupting from faceless figures.
HoM: It is part of the contrast between the dream world (represented by nature) and the everyday world, which is more “claustrophobic” and even suffocating. No one can dream endlessly, but perhaps we all know how close we want to be to our dreams.
MP: What mediums do you work in, and how does a typical piece go from idea to minted NFT?
HoM: I usually use my iPad / Procreate and only rarely use AfterEffects or Photoshop in my work. I can say that ideas find me during a conversation or when I am asleep. I don’t like to think about what to create and I wait for the subject to suddenly overtake me. In order to remember, I make quick drawings and sketches, and then I like to carefully look at the sketch. If the imagery still hits me emotionally then it is ready to be an NFT.
MP: Are there themes or modes of expression that you find the digital realm to be more suited to than traditional, tactile art?
HoM: I find that I’m drawn to digital mediums for cryptoart … it’s more fluid and allows me to bring in more elements that I can live with or quickly discard.
MP: Why did you settle on the name Hair of Medusa?
HoM: I think my art can be as beautiful as Medusa was before she was cursed, but it almost always contains darker elements that may be as cursed as her hair — literally transformed into asps for a transgression that was not her own doing.
MP: What other artists in the web3/NFT space inspire you these days?
MP: What advice would you give to emerging artists entering the digital art world?
HoM: Since I joined the NFT world about two years ago, my motto is: work work work … and as funny as it sounds, what I mean is that I encourage newer artists to do art every day, to hone their craft, so that when inspiration strikes they are ready to execute their vision with confidence.