Art Therapist: Hannah Klaus Hunter

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As an art therapist for UC Davis Children’s Hospital in Sacramento, Hannah Klaus Hunter teaches young patients to use paint, clay and other mediums to express themselves as they grapple with life-threatening illnesses and injuries. Then she goes home and assembles her own vividly hued collages—her way of working through the deaths that occur too often on the job.
Some of Klaus Hunter’s personal projects hang in her second-story Davis atelier: a pair of vertical wooden blocks bearing images of mandalas, the elephant-headed Hindu deity Ganesh and other symbols that remind Hunter of the East Indian patient she worked with for nearly a year before the girl died; a series of nine smaller blocks (with more to come) covered in bright fabrics, papers and other “found” objects, each symbolizing another lost life.
“I have to do something that will hold my grief,” explains Klaus Hunter, herself the mother of two. “At the same time . . . these lives are so short, but they mean something. I want their meaning to extend even beyond their families.”
Hunter has worked with a variety of art forms throughout the years. As a high school student in Michigan, she was drawn to weaving and made her own looms. She painted and sculpted in college and graduate school, the latter at the California College of the Arts in Oakland. Still, she has repeatedly been drawn to collage. “I’m always taking things from disparate sources and making something new out of them,” she says. “It’s an extension of living.”
Klaus Hunter teaches collage and other classes, and exhibits often in Davis and elsewhere. For more information, visit her website: thesecondstorystudio.com.

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