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Ode to a Horse Girl

by Kennedy Rooke

I discovered Lisa Hanawalt one night after watching a music video she designed and directed for the Tegan and Sara song “Hang on to the Night”. I fell in love with the song, video, and her, immediately. I recommend watching it in the dark, full screen, with headphones turned up loud. The song which is about feeling anxious, nervous, scared, and whenever I’m feeling that way, be it from crippling amounts of homework, hormones that like to fuck with you, or just your everyday plunge into existential dread, I watch the video. Hanawalt’s characters and her story make me laugh and comfort me. I want to jump into her bright-coloured world and ride horses with the bipedal cats, dance with the plant-headed ladies, and explode into a star in the purple sky. This video is like an escape into another universe and like the horse does at the end, I want to wrap myself up in it. After watching the video for the first time, I immediately looked Hanawalt up and browsed through her website. That night I bought three of her prints. In the span of a night she became my favourite artist and the person I most like to geek out on.

The characters in the video may feel familiar to you, as Hanawalt is the designer of the Netflix animated comedy Bojack Horseman. That night I started watching the show and finished the three seasons a few days later (not a difficult thing to do). She has a book called Hot Dog Taste Test, published by Montreal’s own Drawn and Quarterly, which boasts musings on “Menstrual Huts”, “Holiday Meats”, and some great “Toilet Comics”. I highly recommend you check it out.

Digging into Hot Dog Taste Test

I’m a big fan of illustration and was immediately drawn in by her work. It is bizarre and funny and absolutely unique. Who else have you ever seen draw snakes with boobs or come up with a piece called “DickTit Birds”? It’s obvious in her work that Hanawalt is a die-hard horse lover, something I myself can relate to as I myself am a former Horse Girl. Yes, I was one of those weird-ass, horse loving girls from your elementary school, and I am unashamed. Hanawalt makes me proud to be an (ex) Horse Girl! Now I even have her Colossus Horse proudly hanging in my bedroom.   

The best part of my bedroom, “Colossus Horse”, “Gymnastics”, “Snake Pile”

I don’t study art history and I certainly don’t possess much artistic talent myself, as the embarrassing elementary school art class projects hanging in my parents’ basement can show you, so I really just wanted to use this opportunity to gush about an artist I think is really fucking cool. The night I discovered her I became so enthralled in her work that I didn’t even notice my dog was busy chowing down on my birth control pills.

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