Emily Hassell British, Canadian, American Contemporary artist and social activist. A sculptor, writer, painter, caregiver, and single mother of four, Hassell brings a global focus for Guatemala through international work building socio-cultural community development. Hassell has founded and co-founded initiatives including la Casa Bizarra(1996-98), Casa 0-27 (2000-2003) Guatemala, Holistica la Montana, Guatemala,(2004-06) The Experimental Artists Collective Gallery 345, Hudson NY (2006-08), Camphill Ghent Elders in Community, Ghent NY( 2011-13), La Alianza de Desarrollo del Arte Contemporáneo, Antigua Guatemala (2016-), and MaPA Museo de Arte Publico Antigua (2019-)
Born in the United Kingdom to Canadian parents, Dr. Christopher Hassell MD, and Margaret de Witt a teacher, weaver, and caregiver. Hassell's parents separated and her mother remarried Gary Lamb, a writer, educator, and social activist. Hassell was raised in the United States, growing up in a number of intentional communities including the Threefold Community, Hawthorne Valley, Larchfield Community, Shieling Community Ballytobin Community among others. She got her first job at age 12, and by 16 she had applied for two different jobs in the United Kingdom and left the US at age 16 to work as an apprentice in theatre, sculpture and Therapeutic Studies assisting special needs children, teenagers and adults learned Equine Assisted Therapy and worked as a teacher. Upon returning to the US at age 18 Hassell received her certification and worked as a Home Health Aide in eldercare before traveling to Guatemala at age 18 in 1994
Hassell began to be an activist in the socio-cultural development of Guatemala but not being a limelight seeker, is rarely recognized or recollected in the media and historical documentation. Hassell was however an original founding resident involved in the opening and function of la Casa Bizarra (1995-97). La Casa Bizarra to date has been one of the most significant and controversial avant-garde artistic post-war initiatives to have emerged as a collective voice of post-war generation youth artists in Guatemala.
Of la Casa Bizarra, Hassell was the only one to pursue a professional visual art career. Other original members of la Casa Bizarra include Jose Osorio(Caja Ludica, Arte Urbano, Octubre Azul with Rosina Cazali) Giovanni Michel Pinzon ( Bohemia Suburbana), Shayla Du Ploy, Pancho Toralla (Panchorizo, Founder of Circo Batz), Pedro Antillon, Simon Pedroza (Editoriales Bizarros), Eva Scheibreithner, Pablo Robledo and Josue Aguilar. The Casa Bizarra changed the status quo, bringing art to the public in outdoor and accessible environments, fighting exclusivity of the traditional formats, through performance arts, dance, poetry, film, music, theater and more. Hassell not only promoted her own work but took an ongoing interest to promote her peers' works. Putting on events, exhibitions, and opening her home to many over the years while raising her four children. Among this generation this generation of artists whom Hassell worked and spent time with Anibal Lopez, Regina Jose Galindo, Itziar Sagone, Alejandro Marre, Dario Escobar, Javier Payeras, Javier de Cid, Pablo Bromo, Jorge de Leon, Sandra Monterroso, Cecilia Dogherty, Alejandra Hidalgo, Audrey Houben, Yazmin Hage, Erick Menchu, Ishto Jueves, and many more. Hassell also met some of the older generation of artists including Pablo Swezey, Daniel Chauche, Roberto Cabrera, Moises Barrios, El Tecolote, and Efrain Recinos Montt during this time.
Hassell met Anibal Lopez in 1998 who encouraged her to begin to exhibit professionally. Showing her work in a formal gallery for the first time with the series “Guerra por amor” in 2000; curated by gallerist Aida Aguilar, at the Libelula Gallery. As well as Sol del Rio, and Centro Cultural Metropolitano where she exhibited “ Diario Personal” 2001 which filled three museum sized rooms.
In 2003 Hassell gained public attention while her exhibition “Payasos y Ladrones” at Fundacion Continental G&T was censored due to the graphic social-political nature of the work, a series of black and white drawings marked with red highlighted points, copied from photographic material from the current local newspapers of politician, news images, and rough street scenes.
From 2004- 06 Hassell ran the Equine Assisted Therapy program for a private addictions clinic where she gave sessions with the clients at the clinic as well as a local school group of special needs children. While working at the clinic Hassell began to understand she had been in an abusive relationship for the 12 years she was with the father of her children. Rather than going public or filing an order of protection, she asked to be able to leave Guatemala, uprooting their home, friends, family, and a thriving career to become a single mother of four to raise them on a single income from that time onward.
2006 She returned to work in New York, initiating and co-founding the Experimental Artists Collective at Gallery 345, in Hudson NY with a new group of NY artists. Curating exhibitions for local and international artists.
In 2008 With private patronage she single handedly put on a solo show of her 4th body of work “Waves” at Basilica Industria gaining attendance of over 1200 under the previous ownership of Patrick Doyle. The show was additionally the first-ever art exhibition to be held in, what is now, years later a well-established acclaimed cultural space in the Hudson Valley. Under the guidance and mentor ship of Peter Barton, artist, director of Hudson River Art Projects, Hassell produced her 5th complete body of work “ Bloodworks”. While Peter Barton’s deep historical roots in the art scene in NYC provided her with introductions to the likes of reknown gallerist Annina Nosei and poet, photographer Gerard Malanga, and Robert C Morgan art critic, who came to the 444 Warren Street studio and exhibition space. This body of work was made possible via Peter and the Hudson River Art Projects. .
2010 Hassell received both the Think Outward Credere Grant, Center for Social Research, followed shortly by a substantial studio grant from Artefact & Robert Pardo Gallery.
From 2011-13 Hassell was asked to assist in the opening of the Chatham NY based Elders In Community, for Independent and assisted living as a full-time founding co-worker with her family. During this time, she also completed her body of work sculpture work called “Immemorial” and completing her 7th body of work “Grace” which was not exhibited publicly, but sold directly from the studio to private clientele in 2015.
In 2016 Hassell returned to Guatemala to found the Alliance for Development & Contemporary Art ADAC and Museo de Arte Publico Antigua MaPA implementing projects which get the arts in full view as a necessary and primordial first step, to cultivate the environment, to turn Antigua Guatemala into a world-class public museum city.
2009 "Bloodwork" Studio 444, Hudson River Art Projects, Hudson NY 2008 "Tides" Basilica Industria, Hudson NY 2004 "Payasos y Ladrones" Canton Exposition, Fundacion G&T Continental, C.A 2003 "Diary" Metropolitan Cultural Center, Guatemala curated by Jose Osorio 2002 "Guerra por Amor" Gavroche, Guatemala curated by Aida Aguilar
2017 TATO Paseo de Museo Santa Domingo, Antigua Guatemala 2010 "Water" Basilica Industria Hudson NY 2007 /2008 345 Artists Collective, Hudson NY 2007 CCCA Arts Walk, Hudson NY 2006 La Puerta Roja, Guatemala, Central America 2005 Metropolitan Cultural Center, Guatemala,Central America Curated by Jose Osorio 2005 Museo Ixchel, Guatemala,C.A. Curated by 2005 Sol del Rio, cuarated by Victor Martinez, Guatemala, Central America 2004 Red Mills, Merchant and Ivory Foundation, NY 2004 Sol del Rio, Victor Martinez, Guatemala, Central America 2003 Hipersensitivity, 0-27 Guatemala., Central America 2002 Coloquia, Guatemala, Central America 2001 0-27 Guatemala Central America 2001 Imagica, Antigua, Guatemala, Central America. 2001 Semana Bizarra, Guatemala, Central America 1998 Casa Bizarra, Guatemala, Central America. 1997 Casa Bizarra, Guatemala, Central America. 1996 Casa Bizarra, Guatemala, Central America 1995 Arts Walk, Hudson, NY
Workshops 2005-06 HLM, Antigua,Guatemala 2003-04 Casa Comal, Guatemala
Televisión 2007 Guatevision HLM interview on Equine Therapy HLM 2004 Guatevision EL Vagon, interview with Igal Permuth on exhibition “War for Love” 2003 Guatevision El Vagon, Igal Permuth on other works
Awards 2010 Artefact Gallery Studio Grant 2009 Hudson River Art Projects, 2008 Credere Grant 2004 Henriette Reiss Award
Ephemeral Art Projects 2001- 03 Executive Director and Co-Founder of 0-27, Guatemala City 2006-08 Co-founder of the Experimental Artists Collective and Gallery 345, Hudson NY
Bibliography La Cuerda, Lucia Escobar 2006 References for Los Bizarros and la Casa Bizarra "El inicio de arte urbano en la ciudad de Guatemala después de la firma de la paz" DeGuate.com 2009 "Anologia de ocho Expresiones Artistico..." Thesis by Luis Alberto Torres Morales 2009 "La Casa Bizarra, preludio del arte Contemporanea en Guatemala" by Javier Payeras La Hora http://www.gtcultura.com/a-20-anos-de-la-casa-bizarra/ Siglo 21 http://www.s21.gt/2016/12/casa-bizarra-vigesimo-aniversario/ “Grappling with Atrocity” by John Shillington 2002 2016 “Una no-generation de Arte y Cultura” Sergio Valdes Pedroni La Hora http://lahora.gt/una-no-generacion-arte-cultura-urbana/ “Centroamericana 22” by AAVV https://books.google.com.gt/books?id=TMSMAwAAQBAJ&dq=la+casa++bizarra+guatemala&source=gbs_navlinks_s 2016 Estuardo Prado https://casiliteral.com/tag/casa-bizarra/ Politics in art and art in politics by Marivi Veliz http://www.revistasexcelencias.com/en/arte-por-excelencias/editorial-13/resenas/politics-art-and-arts-politics-guatemala
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