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No Limits: Versatility is a virtue for Hautamaki

Ryan Jarvi

Sep 29, 2017

My artwork and process were mentioned in Muses of Marquette County, the annual Superiorland Magazine published by The Mining Journal.

MARQUETTE — Whether it’s composing music or singing, painting or creating digital illustrations, Selena Hautamaki has dipped her artistic brush into a wide variety of mediums.

“I strongly believe all mediums can be combined into one large project,” she said. “There are no limits to what you can imagine and create. Maintaining the drive to do so can be the challenging aspect.”

Growing up in Skandia, Hautamaki said she’s always been a visual person, and had the urge to draw since the early years of her life. “My mother told me when I was young I would take a project from school that required a drawing and a report, take a half hour on the writing, and three hours or so on the drawing,” she said.

But it wasn’t until after something tragic, during her third year at Northern Michigan University, when the budding artist — at that time studying clinical laboratory sciences — realized she wanted to pursue something a little less scientific, and a little more creative as a career.

“I was in a car accident on the way to work at the university,” she recalled. It was winter of 2002, and Hautamaki lost control of her vehicle on the icy roads near Harvey. The white car slid downhill into the lane for oncoming traffic, and that was all she could remember.

After an unknown amount of time, she came to and found the car had flipped over down a hill, and she had to dig herself out of the snowy tomb, flagging down a stranger for a ride to a nearby gas station. “When I eventually attended class again I felt very disconnected to my major and I was having panic attacks and memory problems,” Hautamaki said.

Doctors did a CT scan, but found nothing wrong, and that following summer, she decided to enroll in an illustration class. Hautamaki said she was always fairly adaptable to computer work, so she switched her major to electronic imaging, now known as computer art at NMU, and started painting with gouache and watercolors on her free time. She draws inspiration from anywhere, and “any feeling or audio or visual experience can inspire new work,” she said, adding a song might result in a new drawing or painting, which might later lead to an animation or video.

“I really love the versatility of digital illustration,” she said. “Working with other mediums can make my digital work stronger. I typically add watercolor elements and photography into the digital realm.” Hautamaki still has memory problems, but her creative side since the accident has blossomed.

“Currently, I am working on a series called ‘Self Image,’” she said. “Each panel represents very specfic events, feelings or pursuits I have come across in my lifetime. I had a vision of 12 panels including photographs of myself drawn into a sort of fantasy, like the books I read throughout my childhood. Some of these have been exhibited as I have produced them. ‘Soon Friends’ was recently in the North of the 45th exhibit at the DeVos Art Museum at the Northern Michigan University campus, and ‘Space Madness’ and ‘Soul Keeper’ were both exhibited in two separate group showings at New Bohemian Art Gallery at the Franklin Art Center in Brainerd, Minnesota.” She’s hoping to exhibit all 12 panels next year in a solo show, for which she’s currently seeking venues.

“A large majority of my personal art is very introspective,” she said. “I use art as a sort of diary. I typically don’t tell onlookers about the specific subjects because some of the reasons for certain pieces are painful to talk about. I like the viewers to see what they perceive, what they feel from a piece. What you see visually is entirely based off of your own personal experiences. I don’t want to change that feeling by specifically explaining my premise.” Hautamaki’s profile can be viewed online at .

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