After receiving a life-changing diagnosis, Hannah Blanton threw herself into the therapeutic world of art — and it caught her with open arms. The Sozo Gallery owner’s long-winded journey toward success is one that has continues to inspire those suffering from any sort of illness, proving that “with brokenness comes strength.”
Growing up in the artful city of Charleston, witnessing her mother’s history fascination, and taking art classes at the College of Charleston, art has always been a part of Blanton’s reality. After taking care of newborn babies, for an impressive 19 years, at Levine’s Pediatric ICU, Blanton’s development Guillain-Barre Syndrome forced her to take care of herself. Paralyzed from the neck down, her family and unwavering faith was what kept her fighting each and every day.
“We all have a story,” Blanton begins. “Mine was life changing…I could have curled into a fetal position and given up, full of anger. With my faith and family as an anchor, though, I decided to use my story to inspire others and, hopefully, leave my mark on the world.”
While in recovery, Blanton found another unlikely remedy that proved pivotal: yoga. Starting with utilizing gentle, recovery-based yoga, Blanton immediately developed a “mad addiction” to the practice. Eventually, she decided to utilize her passion to help others heal as well by teaching yoga to patients, siblings, and parents at Hemby Children’s hospital, along with helping teen athletes utilize all yoga has to offer.
“I wish I had the knowledge and breath work of yoga when I was sick,” Blanton shares. “Teaching yoga is truly an art itself, where I am the paintbrush, and my yoga students are the canvas. My hope is that a newfound peace will transfer over into my students’ everyday life.”
While training for her position as a yoga instructor, Blanton was tackling another culture venture — opening her very own art gallery. Sozo Gallery officially opened in 2013 with immense community support that Blanton gained from her prominent volunteer work in the art field. Now, Sozo Gallery has art supporters of all types flocking to the hip, modern art hub.
“We primarily carry contemporary works, but have a wide variety of artists that work with oil, sumi ink, acrylic, mixed media, watercolors, collage, and tar,” Blanton explains. “We represent artists who like to tell stories through their works.”
For Blanton, who stresses the importance of taking care of those who need it most, giving back is not merely a pastime, but necessary for a maintaining a high-functioning society.
“Take time every day to do something kind for someone, without expecting anything in return,” Blanton urges. “These small acts of kindness can create rippling effects in our city. Serving others and sharing our gifts is proven to provide us with the deepest of satisfaction and happiness.”