“These works are all under glass so it’s not like I can lick them,” he added quickly, with a laugh.
But it’s more than just the salt.
“She has a unique ability to create an interesting synergy between art and science,” Beam said.
Hanson, who received her bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Indiana University and her master of fine arts at the University of Illinois, began her career as an artist in silversmithing, making art jewelry out of metal. She later moved into other media, creating pieces that projected images in light through containers of liquids.
“I was persuing work that was live ... every moment was unique,” she said, adding that working with salt was similarly live, though it tended to settle down once the water evaporates.
The self-proclaimed perfectionist said she viewed making salt drawings as an exercise in learning to let go of having complete control over her creations.
“Spontaneous or unspontaneous ... whatever she does with it, salt will always grow into a salt crystal. Salt is salt. You can’t make a crystal grow in a different shape. It is what it is,” Beam said.
“Early on in the process I decided I would embrace imperfection, which is very different than my personality and temperament,” Hanson said. “I wanted to be open with any mistakes that happen in the pieces and find a way to work through those imperfections.”
“It’s exciting to see her try to cut loose a little bit,” Beam said.
Hanson took a break from her salt drawings for several years and when she returned to them in 2012, she decided to incorporate more color, but without the aid of watercolors and other pigments. Instead, she added copper sulfate, potassium ferricyanide, chromium potassium sulfate and aluminum potassium sulfate to her palette, brining in a variety of hues of greens, blues, oranges and browns.