Artist Profile: Ann Resnick

6 10 2010

This post is the first in a series of artist profiles. TFAP-KS interviews Wichita-based artist Ann Resnick about her work, her influences, and her relationship to feminism. Ann is the director of Project Gallery and, with Elizabeth Stevenson, the co-founder of the River City Biennale. Find out more about Ann and her work at her website:

http://lotech.wordpress.com/

REB: Do critical issues of gender influence your current and/or past work, and if so, how?

AR: The undercurrent of Victoriana that runs through my current work, a preoccupation with memorials and floriograpy, letter-writing and Victorian-era decoration, may lend a gender-specific quality to my work that I accept as a by-product of its concept rather than a specific act of criticality. I tend to follow my own interests and where they intersect with current critical thought is a happy accident.

REB: What is your background, in general, with feminism?

AR: Feminism is the underpinning of all my political thought. I came of age in the 70’s along with the Equal Rights Amendment and Women’s Liberation Movement, especially as it pertained to reproductive rights and inequality in the workplace.

Prayer for a Happy Death, 2007. Burnt paper.

REB: Are there specific women or feminist writers who have particularly influenced your thinking and art?

AR: I was influenced by popular writers of feminist literature; Doris Lessing, Marilyn French, Margaret Drabble, Margaret Atwood–then by political women; Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisolm, Bella Abzug–in the art world–Lucy Lippard, for one. Eleanor Munro’s “Originals: American Women Artists” was the eye-opening book that introduced me to a lot of the artists that I think of today as my progenitors.

REB: Were you influenced by the American Feminist Art Movements of the 1970s? Or feminist art produced abroad?

AR: The feminist art movements of the 70’s reached me in the 80’s, but they were very influential (Womanhouse, in particular, struck a chord with me). Now it feels like all that work is part of my DNA–impossible to sort out where or whether its influence appears in my work. I do feel my influences to be generally more American than from abroad.

Commemoration, 2008. Burnt paper / burnt mylar

REB: Much of your recent work has involved floral imagery. Has your work been described as feminine and/or decorative? And if so, how do you respond to that?

AR: I can’t recall that my work has actually been described like that. It’s hard to argue with the adjectives ‘feminine’ and ‘decorative’ as actual descriptors of the work, however, those terms are often meant to be dismissive and undermine whatever conceptual weight it might carry.

REB: What do you see as the relevance of feminism for women working in contemporary art?

AR: It’s important for women to recognize the necessity of feminist activism in the current art world. Women are still relegated to less visible, under-compensated roles in the contemporary art. Ofen the fact that some women artists have achieved great fame obscures the reality of the inequity that still exists in both exhibitions and collections.

More importantly, I think the values expressed by earlier feminists still have resonance today. ‘Women’s Work’ is important!

REB: You’ve been involved with artist-mentoring programs. How has that influenced your work?

AR: Mentoring has provided me with an opportunity to reflect on my own practice, clarifying my thought process and fine-tuning my approaches to art-making.

REB: Tell us a little about the collaborative projects you’ve been involved with. Do you see collaboration as a potential trait of feminist art?

AR: I’m a member of hack.art.lab (HAL), an art and tech collaborative that emphasizes interaction between artists, musicians, educators and engineers to produce experimental/interactive installations. We’re currently exhibiting at Paragraph, a gallery run by the Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City, MO.  http://www.charlottestreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/hack-art-lab-youcompleteme_pressrelease.pdf

Collaboration often serves underrepresented groups well. Strength in numbers is a persuasive justification for banding together like-minded individuals. It is an ideal platform for feminists and other underserved populations.

Adieu, 2008. 365 screenprinted and cut paper zinnias, black light, electric fans.

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