CREATIVE MINDS: ANNE LEMANSKI “RABBIT RABBIT RABBIT” AT SOCO GALLERY
FEAR, LUCK, FATE, WORK, FORTUNE , 2017
To enter the world of artist Anne Lemanski is literally like falling down the rabbit hole of creativity. She is wickedly funny, wickedly smart, and wickedly talented. Her works are not only impeccably constructed with layers of various materials, but they are also layered with meaning. This brilliant combination has garnered her accolades in a plethora of solo exhibitions and private and public collections around the country. Charlotte art lovers were lucky enough to get a first look at her new work at her exhibition “Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit” at SOCO Gallery open through March 16th.
WHIP IT, 2017
Anne describes her process in an interview with OPP, “I’m not making work to beat people over the heads with my ideas and opinions, which are certainly present. But I try to keep the work subtle and layered. Along with the content, I still believe in making a beautifully crafted, sculptural object. I’m drawn to formal aesthetics of line, color and pattern. It is usually my construction technique that initially draws people in. Then they take a longer look. It has taken me years to hone my construction skills, so I’m glad when someone appreciates it. Everyone brings their own emotions and politics to a piece, and a connection can happen at many different levels.”
What is your background?
I grew up in a tiny town (Pop. 900) in Michigan, and went to college in Detroit, where I was also very involved in the local art scene. After losing my apartment to a tornado, I moved to Chicago where I managed a high-end picture frame shop, and made my artwork sporadically—it was during this period I decided to pursue my art-making fulltime. In 2004 I moved from Chicago to Penland, North Carolina.
When did you know you wanted to pursue art as a career?
It took me twelve years after graduating with a BFA to seriously pursue art fulltime. I came to a crossroads at the frame shop I was managing in Chicago. The owner wanted me to become more involved with the business in a way that would require more time and attention and would mean giving up making art entirely. I was either going to be a framer for a very long time, or I had to make a leap, and try and make a go with my artwork. I decided to apply for a few long-term artist residencies to provide me with time to develop my work, and lo and behold, I was awarded a three-year residency at Penland School of Crafts, here in North Carolina. I made the move, and have been a working studio artist ever since!
What is your creative process when you begin a work?
The nature of my work requires that I be quite methodical in the beginning stages when I am building the copper rod frames for my sculptures. The forming and brazing of the “skeleton” must be precise. From there, I work instinctually and try to listen to my gut in terms of where the piece is headed. Sometimes I think I have the whole thing figured out in my head, and then it will diverge from its original path. My collage/print work is a whole different thing. A stream of consciousness takes over with collage…it works my brain in a totally different way than the sculpture does. I love it.
LUCK AND FEAR, 2017
Tell us about your current work.
My latest body of work is currently on exhibit at SOCO Gallery…the show is titled Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, and consists of both two-dimensional and sculptural pieces. This is the most personal body of work I have ever executed. Without going into all the details, I’ll just say the work is inspired by a tragic event that occurred in my life when I was ten years old, and the family dynamics that were set in motion as a consequence. The pieces address fate vs. luck and fortune, and how our lives can be shaped by events that are completely out of our control.
12 GAUGE, 2017
I have also started collaborating with Barrie Benson Interior Design. Our first foray into wallpaper design can currently be seen in the bathroom at SOCO Gallery. I’m very excited about this new direction, and thrilled to be working with Barrie!
Do you have any advice for budding artists and/or budding collectors?
For artists: be persistent and take chances. For collectors: support living, working artists! Get to know the person who makes the work you love …it will enhance the whole collecting experience.
Whose work do you admire? (artists, creatives, etc)
There are many visual artists that I respect, but I really admire writers. To possess the gift of weaving complex stories with the written word is truly magnificent. My North Carolina favorite is Ron Rash.
What type of art do you collect?
I have a nice menagerie of these odd, “taxidermy” animals. They are not real stuffed animals, but more like toys or souvenirs. There is a new, “made in China” version of these animals that are readily available, but I am always on the lookout for the cockeyed, vintage treasure.
What would be your fantasy work of art to acquire?
Any one of Joseph Cornell’s “box constructions” would do nicely…but if I had to choose one, it would be Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery, 1943.
What would be your dream commission?
To transform my collage/print work into an all-encompassing environment…Sistine Chapel style!
Two weeks (or longer!) at the Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland.
It’s no secret that I enjoy a good cocktail!
Eurythmics (with Aretha Franklin), Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves
Most recent art trip/adventure?
Last year I had the opportunity to revisit the Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts. It did not disappoint. Favorite museum? I don’t really have a favorite, but I do love a good natural history museum.
Anne Lemanski is a multidisciplinary artist currently focusing on the complex, symbiotic relationship between humans and animals, and the exploitation of the natural world to suit our needs. She incorporates two-dimensional collage with three-dimensional sculptures that are cohesive and complementary in scope. In the two-dimensional works, there is a sense of suffocation as a result of human interference and the accompanying man-made byproduct, while the three dimensional works express a palpable tension when installed in the unnatural confines of a gallery or museum setting.
Anne Lemanski studied at Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan, and the Studio Art Center International in Florence, Italy. In 1992, she earned a BFA from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan. Lemanski was the recipient of the 2010-11 North Carolina Arts Council grant. Lemanski is a former resident artist for the McColl Center for Art + Innovation in Charlotte, NC, Penland School of Crafts in Penland, North Carolina, and Ox-Bow Summer School of Art in Saugatuck, Michigan. Now living in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, she is building a studio constructed from recycled shipping containers. Her work is in many private collections, and the permanent collections of the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC; North Carolina Museum of Art; Asheville Art Museum in Asheville, NC; and the U.S. Department of State Art in Embassies collection, Karachi, Pakistan.
Lemanski’s dynamic installation will be comprised of both her well-known sculptures as well as intricate prints, and marks one of the most personal explorations ever undertaken by the artist and a wholly encompassing experience. The meticulously crafted copper-wire armature sculptures she has been exploring since 1997 now take an innovative turn as the skins covering them are created by the artist from built, repetitive forms echoing remnants of the artist’s childhood, as opposed to the uniquely found materials that originally defined and enlivened her works. A range of prints utilizing unusual materials will reveal an artist engaging her roots and connected to a future vocabulary.
“Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” is on view through March 16th with “Hold These Truths” featuring works by Brad Thomas. Click HERE to read his “Creative Minds” interview. For inquiries, please contact SOCO Gallery.