The Arts Council for Long Beach is hosting an opening reception for SHINE, an exhibition of work by recent recipients of their Professional Artist Fellowship grant. Annie Stromquist is an artist who works primarily with mixed media on paper. She uses various processes, including printmaking, drawing, painting, encaustic and collage. The show includes works by Annie from The Memory Loss series, some from The Messenger series, a piece in response to 9/11 titled Cry, and a small grid of boxes called Meditations.
"The Memory Loss series is in honor of my mother, who experienced it in the last year of her life. She died in 2011. During that last year, I gave her a poinsettia plant. She loved it and remembered that I'd given it to her, but she was always afraid she'd not remembered to thank me. So, every time we spoke, she'd thank me again. Sort of a bittersweet memory. Anyway, this series uses actual hand-printed leaves as metaphors for memory loss. The leaves are torn and disintegrated. I also use leaves as bird wings in the series, suggesting the passing of time.
"I love the immediacy of hand printing with objects. Typically, I work on wet paper so that the ink runs and smears. While that is unpredictable, I've learned to control it in multiple ways and I love that process. Paper is so tactile, so versatile, and has such personality. The surface is so receptive to ink. And, in the end, since I like to keep a lot of open space in my visual images, I like the look of paper in those open spaces, rather than canvas or, say, wood.
"Sometimes, I'm inspired by a found object that I can cover with ink and print. I'll set up my table top to experiment with inks, colors, companion objects that are also printable. I try very hard not to have expectations in this stage. If I'm just trying to have a good time, to follow my hunches, to relax with what comes to mind as I work, then I'm more apt to find a direction and to see some results that I think are worth pursuing. The series called The Messengers, and Cry, are good examples of this process. I worked with an antique copper batik stamp, seeing how I could manipulate the image. I really enjoyed that process. It was exciting to me."
Annie admits that, during her explorations, associations with 9/11 began to emerge in the work which, ultimately, became Cry.
"I made that piece in the fall of 2011. I didn't have 9/11 consciously in my mind, and I wasn't thinking of creating anything related to it. I decided later, when I saw the whole series and thought that the works all seemed incredibly sad, that my subconscious was making the association. And when the title 'Cry' came to mind, it all just fit.
"The one I kept, and will show at The Collaborative, is all black and greys, color wise. There are two birds placed vertically and apart, wings against their sides, looking as if they are suspended in space. The others in the series include some red - like blood - color that ended up looking explosive. These red areas intersect with the birds, themselves. One of my friends said she found the works very disturbing, and I can see what she means. They are dark and foreboding."
Annie has found the acknowledgement of the Professional Artist Fellowship grant to be a very satisfying form of recognition.
"Making art, at least for me, is an interior activity in which I'm trying to meet my own expectations. During the process, I'm my own judge and tough critic. I've got to make lots of aesthetic decisions. Sometimes, it is hard to see what I'm doing because I'm so close to it. Then, when I'm done and put the work out there for others to see and react to, it can be very scary! So, to get positive feedback, especially something like the Fellowship Grant, is very encouraging. It helps me know I can move forward."
SHINE includes works by Margie Darrow, Jeff Foye, Jessica Kondrath and Kurt Simonson. The Collaborative is located at 421 W. Broadway. The opening reception takes place from 6-9PM on Saturday, February 1. Paid street parking, and validated parking in the building, are available.
The Collaborative operates as a partnership between the Arts Council for Long Beach and the Museum of Latin American Art. The two organizations alternate exhibition curation.