Women You Should Know: Lynae Hanson

3 mins read

Executive Director of Bismarck Art and Galleries Association

By Arielle Windham, Empowered by Ladyboss Lifestyle

In the art world where leadership roles, like executive director, are often dominated by men, one woman is breaking barriers and paving the way for others. Meet Lynae Hanson, the fearless female gallery director and executive director of the Bismarck Art and Galleries Association. In a candid conversation, she shares her unique journey, challenges, and the empowering lessons she’s learned along the way. 

“It’s rare. There are very few female executive directors, not just in the art world, but in other nonprofit sectors as well,” she admits, acknowledging the underrepresentation of women in top leadership positions. Despite the challenges, she emphasizes the importance of confidence and assertiveness, urging women not to sell themselves short.

Being adaptable and accepting challenges

Before stepping into the art world, Hanson served as an assistant director at the North Dakota Safety Council. Reflecting on her journey, she mentions starting as a marketing person and gradually donning multiple hats. Working in a nonprofit, she learned the value of adaptability and taking on new challenges.

Transitioning into her role as the executive director of the Bismarck Art and Galleries Association, Hanson emphasizes the diverse responsibilities she manages daily, from shoveling snow to public speaking and grant writing. Her experience at the nonprofit equipped her with the skills needed to run a successful art organization.

The Bismarck Art and Galleries Association, under Hanson’s leadership, thrives with a massive membership base and a dedicated volunteer group. The gallery hosts two exhibits every month, showcasing a mix of member and main gallery exhibits, group shows, and student art exhibits. The association also features a gallery store, classrooms for adult art classes, and an event space.

Art brings shared experiences

Hanson passionately speaks about the importance of art in the community. As an artist, she feels strongly that art has a role in attracting tourism and helping foster a vibrant community.

“The big, shared experience of viewing and experiencing art as the artist intended is special. You get to meet the artist; you get to hear their reasons why they created what they created or what their background is. And it helps you understand the images they portrayed or the pieces they’ve created. It truly is unique,” Hanson said.

Art also brings a calming effect, both for viewers and creators. Hanson mentioned, “When you walk into the gallery, you kind of feel yourself take a breath, you feel your heart rate sort of slow down a little bit and you’re just walking around and experiencing the art. It’s also an equally calming, I would say, therapeutic thing for the creator. This experience of releasing some of the things you’ve been feeling or thinking about and putting them into your work. There is a lot of value in that.” With this goal in mind, Hanson chooses art for the Bismarck Art and Galleries Association which draws viewers to not only appreciate but get excited about the artwork.

Success is all about passion and courage

Beyond her professional life, Hanson juggles personal and artistic pursuits. She shares her secret to finding balance, emphasizing the significance of having a dedicated studio space. Balancing the planner and free-spirited artist within herself, she advises others to do what they love, and success will follow.

For Hanson, success as an artist is the dream of having a gallery exhibit, a moment of arrival where all your works are showcased together. She cherishes the feeling of seeing her creations hanging together in a room, a testament to her dedication and passion.

Art is a form of vulnerability. Putting yourself on display for the world to see takes courage. It’s important to recognize and affirm that the competitive nature of one’s creative journey can be difficult but can also be done.

Don’t be afraid to break barriers to get to your dream

As a woman thriving in both the art and business realms, Hanson acknowledges the challenges but finds strength in her love for what she does. Every reception is a testament to her commitment, as she takes a deep breath and speaks passionately in front of an audience, unapologetically sharing her love for art and her role as an executive director.

In Hanson’s journey, we find a perfect blend of skills, passion, and perseverance–a story that inspires and empowers women to break through barriers and pursue their dreams in any field they choose.

Bismarck Art and Galleries Association

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422 E Front Ave, Bismarck, ND 58504