Sanna Legan is a teenage artist/activist with a focus and passion for social justice. Growing up in Los Angeles, she faced societal pressures and problems in the media that she believed needed a spotlight. With an art concentration on topics such as feminism, eating disorders, mental health, and sexual assault, she was chosen as a U.S. Presidential Scholar National Young Arts Finalist – creating a difference through art.
BL: Can you talk to me about your art focus and what themes you like to use?
Sanna: I am an eighteen-year-old social justice artist. Art is my life and has been ever since I held a sketchbook. However, my activism comes first. My art is about feminism. I am part of the next wave of feminism that looks not only into how we are treated by society, but by the way we treat ourselves and each other. Women are besieged both mentally and physically every day. I am young, I am still growing, and I see the effects of this hatred not only in my fellow women but sadly in myself. In times like these, this is why art could not be more important. It is a voice, it is my voice. For the first time, young people like me are being given a platform. Whether it is my art or just my views, I have a lot to say.
BL: How long have you been an artist for?
Sanna: I have been an artist for as long as I can remember. I come from a very artistic family where creativity and speaking my mind was encouraged. However, when I was thirteen, I first realized that art can be more than drawings of princesses and unicorns, but be my own personal voice.
BL: How would you describe your art?
Sanna: My art focuses on raising subjects that are not discussed in polite conversation. Many people are afraid to talk about the real issues that plague women of all ages, issues that we have been taught to deal with since childhood. Issues like anorexia and eating disorders, menstruation, restricted access to birth control, sexual assault, and countless other circumstances of oppression. No women should ever feel alone in the turmoil that this society creates for us. I hope my art can give us strength – we are stronger together.
BL: What different methods do you use when creating art?
Sanna: The problem with being a feminist artist is that you are never short of material. There is almost never a shortage of issues relating to either sexism, women’s rights (or the lack thereof), or other matters that are deeply ingrained into our society. My method for creating art is to find the issues that either myself or other women are enduring and try to use my voice to address it.
BL: Do you have a favorite medium to use?
Sanna: I create discussions on women’s rights using traditional yet unique mediums. I primarily use art through sewing, making historically oppressive garments to comment on the abuse that still exists in today’s society. We like to believe that the restrictions and constraints placed on women are something medieval, when in reality, they are alive and well, just in a different form.
BL: Can you talk about the importance of mixing social issues with art?
Sanna: I believe it is the duty of an artist to reflect current societal issues in their work. Above everything else, art is a message. It is vital that artists use that message to try to inflict change and progress in the world. By using our platforms to speak our minds, and to invite others to do the same, art becomes revolutionary.:
BL: Who are some of your influences or role models?
Sanna: My role models are feminist artists like Judy Chicago and Barbara Krueger who defied barriers within the artistic community. However, I also absolutely love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, RBG, and Sonia Sotomayor and all other women dedicating their lives to fixing this country.
BL: What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
Sanna: I would say that my biggest accomplishment was having my art displayed in the Kennedy Center as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. However, it was not the honor or the location. It was a fellow scholar who came up to me after the exhibition. She shared with me her history of eating disorders and told me that my art was the first time she had ever seen her experience openly discussed. It was is for people like her that I create my art. I want to reach people, I want to let them know that they are not alone. Knowing I have done that, if only just to one person, is my greatest achievement.
BL: If you could give advice to young female artists, what would it be?
Sanna: To absolutely go for it. There are so many people that will tell you being an artist is the wrong choice. That to not share your voice with the world is the smarter decision because it’s less trouble. Life is not worth living if you are not doing what you love.
BL: What do you like to do with your friends?
Sanna: My friends are extremely important and mean absolutely everything to me. My favorite thing to do with my friends is to mainly just to talk, play board games, and have movie nights!
BL: What are some of your other interests/hobbies?
Sanna: I was a salsa dancer during high school and have always loved to dance. I am also an avid reader, a fierce cook, a lover of Planet Earth II, especially while knitting.
BL: What kind of music do you like?
Sanna: I really love all music. My favorite is definitely Motown and ABBA, or any songs on my dad’s road trip mix. I can’t sing even a little bit so I have a deep appreciation for anyone who can.
BL: What are 5 things you can’t live without?
Sanna: I would say that the five things I can’t live without are my sister and my family who are so special to me, my wonderful friends, creating art, my meditation app, and my physical therapy blocks.