Hanna Piksarv

My Students I–V


Many professional artists are also engaged in some other work besides their creative activity. For quite a while, Hanna Piksarv has been working as a craft teacher in an elementary school for children with special needs in Tallinn. It can often be quite stressful to juggle different roles because the people doing the work tend to arrange these in hierarchical order. The process, meditativeness and physical labour play an important role in Piksarv’s work. She once told me she has come to a realisation that she works with the same themes and values in both her art and her teaching work. Modelling helps you study the human shape until it becomes beautiful to look at. This is also the case with teaching, because by delving deeper into another person and working with them, their reluctant or problematic behaviour becomes logical and appropriate instead.

It is human nature to identify with other people; therefore, any kind of care work is very risky. As a teacher, you need to understand and empathise with the student. Working with young people with special educational and mental needs can cause compassion fatigue, which prevents you from noticing the uniqueness of a person’s shape and the logic behind why they are the way they are. Hanna Piksarv tries to avoid this condition.

The five clay heads displayed in this exhibition each represent one of Hanna’s students. The sculptures made from memory outside of class can be interpreted as a meditation that mitigates emotional risks. Referring to teaching and modelling at the same time, the artist says, “It is work that has invisible and intangible results. By doing this, it is not your body that gets exhausted such as when you are involved in physical labour, nor is it your mind like when you are intensely thinking or inventing something; it is something else. Perhaps it is your soul? Is care work done with the soul?