Fiber Optics: Meet Hannah Lawrence of Strands Textiles

The days are filled with art for Hannah Genevieve Lawrence. When she’s not clocking hours as the assistant gallery director at M2 Gallery in SoMa, she’s often weaving intricate patterns to create her own gallery-worthy pieces under her fiber art brand Strands Textiles.

We caught up with Lawrence to talk inspiration, the local art community and how she found her own corner of Little Rock.

Let’s talk fiber! How did you discover this interest, and how did it become Strands Textiles?

Most of the women in my family have kept themselves busy with fiber arts at some point in their lives. They sew, crochet, cross-stitch, quilt and embroider. The homes of my family always had handmade objects, and I always related that to home.

I majored in art and I thought I would pursue traditional 2D methods in college. When I transferred to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, we had to do several different mediums to ensure we were well-rounded artists. They had a textile art class that drew me in, but when I entered the studio it felt like home. I’ve changed my methods of exploring textiles, but I love the ebb and flow of pulling different forms of textile art. When I got into macramé, I felt like I caught on to something that I could share. I’d say that’s when it became Strands Textiles.

From first loop to finished piece, tell us about your process.

My process can vary a lot! I have a big collection of vintage art and design books that I’m very inspired by. One of the pieces in the shoot was inspired by doorways in Indian architecture. Sometimes I just plan a size for a piece, cut my cord and let the piece happen. Planning the size is so crucial, though. It’s very difficult to add cord into macramé, so a lot of number crunching has to happen. The knots in my pieces are always repetitive to an extent, but as a high-anxiety person, I find it very comforting. I add in a lot of color by weaving as well.

Credit: Jason Masters

Do you have a favorite piece?

One of my favorite pieces was a commission I did last year. Meredith Ranouil had me do a 5-by-5 foot piece for her client’s home. I was really nervous, but M2 Gallery and Meredith put together a contract and I got to work. It took 2,100 feet of macramé cord! Not only was working on that large of a scale cool, but working with people I really respect and receiving their support felt so good. It was a physically demanding piece, but I had so much fun with the design process. I even got to go to the install and it was surreal. The whole experience from beginning to end was magical.

How have Strands and your role at M2 impacted how you interact with the community?

Even though I’m a transplant to Little Rock, having Strands and working at M2 have helped me meet so many friends. Before COVID, I used to teach classes at South Main Creative, Bella Vita and Zig Zag Studio and watch people’s creativity bloom. There is a vulnerability when people are learning something new and being the person to support them is a really cool place to be in.

Being at M2, I’ve gotten to see so many people in different aspects of life. I’ve gotten to meet many talented artists who not only blow me away with their art, but also their work ethic and humility. I’ve gotten to meet people who are starting over that come to the gallery to find art to personalize a new home. People trust M2 Gallery with beautiful heirlooms and share their history. Art and framing are very personal, and I think it absolutely becomes a part of the Little Rock community.

Credit: Jason Masters

What are some unexpected lessons you’ve learned about yourself through your art?

I’ve learned how key communication and advocating for yourself are. If you don’t stand up for your free time and sanity, you will absolutely burn out. I’ve taken a step back and slowed down so I can explore my art, but also enjoy the process.

Do you have a big “someday” dream for Strands?

I’m currently reconfiguring what my dream is, but I know I enjoy making art pieces more than functional objects. I used to want to be a full-time artist, but I think I prefer having a day job so I can create with less pressure. I would love to travel to teach workshops. I’d also really enjoy designing patterns and kits for beginning macramé enthusiasts.

Where can people find your work?

I have some smaller pieces at Bella Vita and Box Turtle sometimes, but my large scale pieces and commissions all go through M2 Gallery.

Lightning Round

Where you grew up: I’ve lived in Little Rock since 2018. My husband Corbin and I moved here for a graphic design job at Apptegy. (He’s a really talented artist as well.) I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but brought home to Indiana. My dad was in the Air Force, so I’ve lived in Indiana, Texas, South Carolina, Japan, Mississippi, Ohio, South Korea, Illinois, Kentucky and finally here. I went to high school and college right outside of St. Louis, so I usually just say I’m from there. I like to think it helps people understand I have a very Midwestern demeanor.

Your favorite thing about Little Rock: I absolutely love the small business community here; it’s very unique. I’ve worked in SoMa almost the whole time I’ve lived here. Everyone is so encouraging and caring. It’s been so helpful to have that community while settling in here.

It’s Saturday. What’s for breakfast? Saturdays are usually a work day for me at M2 so my typical breakfast is black coffee. If I take the day off, I’ll always make a beeline to Hillcrest Little Bakery and grab one of their benedicts. I rotate between all three of them because I have a hollandaise problem.

Favorite social media platform: Instagram always!

Favorite local account to follow: Don’t make me just pick one! There are so many cool creatives, but my top three are @midmodmike, @bellavitajewelry and @megareena. They’re all my friends and always doing cool things!

Credit: Jason Masters

Follow along on Instagram at @hannah.genevieve and browse the hashtag #strandstextiles to see more of her work.

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