Hannah Voss

How Not to Cry in the Library

Over my transitional years from teenage-dom to adulthood, I picked up drinking and drug habits to help cope with my stress and anxiety. Through research and reflection, I’ve realised my habits are harmful in theory, but the typical effects of substance dependency haven’t been present in my life, and therefore make me think “hey, maybe all this drinking and smoking isn’t so bad”. This made me think about different types of coping mechanisms and question the benefits and pitfalls that accompany them, whether they are evident or not.

In search of answers, I turned to my friends and family. Once I had interviewed and recorded their thoughts on coping mechanisms, I performed the same interview on myself.

I took these interviews and created a series of short animations using Illustrator and After Effects. My animations paired with the interviews I collected resulted in three documentaries – together, titled How Not to Cry in the Library – about how young people utilise coping mechanisms and the impact they make on our lives. These animations live on a website reminiscent of early 2000s dollhouse style web games, where users can explore the heavy worlds of the three characters in a lighthearted way.

This work stays true to my kitschy and unpolished aesthetic, but it is the longest, most intensive and personal animation I have made to date. Going into my final year of school, I decided this would be the first project where I explore an intimate topic related to mental health and show vulnerability through my work. Exploring topics like addiction, anxiety and self-doubt over the course of the past year taught me a lot about myself and has opened a new avenue for my artistic practice where I am more comfortable with expressing myself.