Activism through art with Hannah Eddy

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Courtesy Photo

Pro snowboarder and artist Hannah Eddy poses with some of her work. Eddy says she has become fascinated with murals.

Brayden Stephenson, Editor

Snowboarding is a creative endeavor. Riders pick out aesthetically pleasing lines and make them their own with unique style. For many, the mountain is their canvas and their boards are their paintbrushes. For Reno-based snowboarder and artist Hannah Eddy, the creativity only starts at the mountain.

“I have been interested in making art for as long as I can remember,” Eddy said. “I think ‘being an artist’ is a mindset and for whatever reason I’ve felt like an ‘artist’ ever since I was young and drawing all the time. I have always loved that feeling of creating and making things so there was never a moment where I realized I was an artist, it’s just been a part of me.”

For the majority of Eddy’s life, art and the outdoors have been both a positive outlet and source of inspiration. The two worlds remain interconnected and continue to feed off of each other.

“Snowboarding, skating, and my art have all been intertwined since I was young,” she said. “I’ve always been inspired by board graphics and the culture of skating and snowboarding.

“I am endlessly inspired by nature and being outside. I love snowboarding, skating, mountain biking, and just generally having fun, so my art is influenced by all of the activities and feelings I love.”

While snowboarding, skating, and other related activities may be a big source of inspiration, other topics have been taking the focus of Eddy’s work. This year especially, Eddy’s art has been a source of positivity in what is sometimes a hostile political and social environment. Topics from mental health to the global climate crisis have been showcased in her work, providing an inspiring connection between art and activism.

“Once I really took a step back and realized all the things that inspire me involve a healthy planet I recognized my opportunity to advocate for caring for the environment and each other through art,” she said. “There’s so much doom and gloom out there, so I like to make sure my illustrations and messaging take on a fun lighthearted approach that is positive and accessible.”

These days the need to spread a positive message or start a movement is crucial and it turns out art in its many forms is the platform for change that humanity desperately needs.

“Art has this ability to speak to us in a language that is very natural and comfortable for us,” said Anza Jarschke, gallery director, MFA-IA program assistant and adjunct professor at Sierra Nevada University. “It hits us in a way that no statistic ever can. I love art for how it gets to our hearts and really start to change us from the inside.

“Art can directly answer problems and offer solutions but there is also art that calls attention. It’s an opportunity to do something that’s greater than ourselves.”

The lightheartedness and funky style of Eddy’s work is perhaps what makes it such a powerful way to shed light on these heavy issues, especially in the world of snowboarding that is only recently developing its relationship to activism.

Along with Eddy’s artwork the summer of 2020 showed many other snowboarders and snowboard-related companies taking a stance on issues that desperately needed attention within the world of snowboarding. Notable moments like the release of Torment Magazines Pride Interviews and brands like Burton and Volcom taking an active stance against racism started show the connection between activism and snowboarding.

“Art has had a long history in snowboarding, and to be able to bring political influence into that realm is really impressive,” said Bryant Davis, SNU’s director of snow sports recruitment. “Hearing people speak about these topics is often draining, so to see an artistic outlet to these social issues is really inspiring. We all need to find our own way to express these injustices.”

Although snowboarding lacks diversity, things might be changing. Davis points out, the world of snowboarding is morphing into the welcoming safe space it needs to be.

“Snowboarding is undoubtedly a white privilege dominated sport,” he said. “I am so happy to see so many of my friends, role models, and favorite brands stepping up to be a part of that conversation. I think a lot of BIPOC, and LGBTQ have gained a lot of ground with the actions the snowboard industry has taken. The Torment Mag pride week, and Seen Snowboarding meetups have allowed people to be comfortable with themselves, and within snowboarding. It was long overdue for an issue like that to come out, and I am psyched to see them making that happen.”

“Art in all forms is such a powerful tool for change,” Eddy said. “I think right now one of the most amazing ways art can have a huge impact is through murals and public art. I’ve been getting more into murals lately, and seeing the positive impact on a city or neighborhood is amazing! “It is such an accessible form of art, anyone can see it and get something from it. There is zero barrier of entry to experience the artwork and I love that. More paintings on more walls!”

View more of Eddy’s art on her website at hannaheddyart.com on Instagram @hannaheddyart.