Praying Mantis Poster Artist

Praying Mantis in the Harvest Moon
2007 Artwork Winner Christi Hadden on Insects, Paddling, Maine and More

The MOF&G interviews the artist, who lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

How did someone from Harrisburg come to enter the Common Ground Country Fair poster contest?

I have been going to the Fair for the last few years and fell in love with it the first time I went. My boyfriend grew up in Georgetown, and lives and works in Bath, so I have spent a fair amount of time in Maine in the last four years! I loved the Fair the minute I got there, and left my second year with an idea for a poster. The first year I just loved the poster but had no idea that artists entered submissions for a contest. I was so excited when I found that out.

Are you a MOFGA member?

I am … I won’t lie: I joined MOFGA in order to enter the poster contest, but I have loved the newsletter so much that I plan to renew my membership annually. There are tons of articles in there that I have already used and events that I would like to go to.

Are you a gardener?

Yep. I have been gardening since I was tiny. My Dad is a botany professor and we have always had plants in and out of the house, from bizarre things like banana trees, to normal stuff and a large garden. My favorite things to grow are squash and pumpkins, because they just seem like magic; and okra, which I love fried and grew up on since I come from the South. My whole family has always gardened. I also learned a lot about plants from my grandmother.

Are you an artist by profession? What sort of training do you have?

Absolutely not, but I would like to be at some point in my life …. maybe illustrating children’s books? That has always been kind of a dream in the back of my head … and there is a scientific illustration program out in Santa Cruz, California, that I would love to get into. I haven’t taken formal art classes after high school. I love drawing and painting even though it is not my profession. I am obsessed with color, and it has always been the first thing I notice about most things.

Christi Hadden, Eric Varney and Scout enjoying a moment in Bath, Maine. Christi joined MOFGA in order to enter the Common Ground Country Fair art contest, and won on her first try.
Christi Hadden, Eric Varney and Scout enjoying a moment in Bath, Maine. Christi joined MOFGA in order to enter the Common Ground Country Fair art contest, and won on her first try.

What did you study in college?

My degree is a B.S. in Environmental Science from Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, and I graduated in 2000. My advisor there was Dr. Joseph Sheldon, and he played a huge role in mentoring me and making me excited about the natural world. I have been taking graduate classes in education.

What is your job?

My job is kind of strange but great. I work at Yellow Breeches Educational Center, a private, adventure-based school for boys who have behavioral and/or social challenges. We do a lot of camping, paddling, climbing and nature-based activities with them, as well as their regular school classes. I have learned so much about life from my kids at school, and it has given me an amazing amount of perspective. Before this job I worked for several years for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and previously to that, I met my Maine boyfriend 🙂 as a marine science instructor on Catalina Island. That experience really got me hooked on drawing anything in the ocean…the colors and variety captivate me.

How did you come up with the idea for a praying mantis and full moon poster?

I noticed that there weren’t many posters that had insects on them, and I have always loved bugs, ever since I was little. They are really one of the basics of any agriculture. Praying mantises fascinate me. When I was a kid, I brought a praying mantis egg case into the house in my coat pocket in the winter. Shortly after, you guessed it, the myriads of baby mantises hatched in the coat closet and were everywhere. My mom was not happy, but maybe it was just the beginning! One of my favorite courses in my undergrad work was my entomology class. I think my advisor always had dreams of me going on to be an entomologist, but I just like to draw the insects! I love pumpkins, like I said, and those things just made me think of a late summer or early fall moon when that slight chill feeling has started to creep in at night.

What medium did you use?

The artwork is all colored pencil.

Will you be at the Fair this year, signing posters?

Yes. I wouldn’t miss the Fair even if my poster weren’t the design for this year. It has crossed my mind that it is going to be really surreal seeing this design walking around on peoples’ T-shirts and in the Common Ground Country store!

Anything else you want Fairgoers to know about you? Sounds like you’re a canoer or kayaker…

I am a paddler …. I have always paddled, my family has always had a fleet of random boats around, and I bought my first personal kayak in college. The last couple of years I have been getting into whitewater paddling, so I’ve been adding boats since then :). I’ve also been doing a bit of climbing for a while, and I pretty much love being outside as much as possible. I love the ocean, especially marine invertebrates, and the kelp forests on the West Coast are just about my favorite thing in life. I’ll be back out there doing some diving again this spring and summer with my best friend, who lives in Santa Barbara.

I am a knitter, and two years ago after the Common Ground Fair, I got inspired to try dyeing yarn for the first time. I asked some of the people with stands at the Fair for advice, and came home that fall and dyed tons of yarn for Christmas presents. It was so fun and I made my own dyes from things I picked outside … the colors were really cool.

A couple of things that I would like to learn to do in my life are furniture building and small wooden boat building. I love poetry, and my favorite poem is Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front by Wendell Berry.

My family is very important to me. I grew up in North Carolina, and my immediate family is still there. My Dad and my grandmother have been the most important role models to me as an adult. I think that a lot of my artistic abilities came from my Mom, who died in 1992. She really cultivated a sense of creativity in me and all of my siblings, encouraging us to build, create, and use our talents. My brother and sister are also really talented,; they both are amazing musicians, which I cannot even begin to participate in :).

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