It is such a pleasure to finally profile the work of artist friend and collaborator, Anny Crane. I originally met Anny during her time at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn/Manhattan, and subsequently continued a creative dialogue with her after her move south.
Anny Crane's Invasive mixed media installation at the Textile Arts Center in Manhattan
Anny works magic with thread and paper, but in a manner that challenges more obedient ways of embroidery stitching and hand illustration. Her intuitive drawing process peels away layers of memory while also anchoring oneself in pockets of textured vulnerability. Anny's thread-heavy works and meandering ink trails are emotionally charged and rich with personal memories, narratives, and internal byways.
I reached out to Anny during 2015-16 to do a ‘material dialogues’ collaboration between our respective studios. We actually never worked together (in person, that is) throughout the creative fabrication process, but the exchange between selected ‘scraps’ led us to an interesting place as artists and material collectors.
I have interspersed a selection of the resulting images at intervals throughout this interview as well as including images from the artist's website. In some documentation photos I used a glass lens – an homage to Anny's 'through the looking glass' interweaving of narratives.
AD: Might you share five objects or artifacts that you currently have in your studio or home – particularly as forms that you feel resonate with your studio work and current investigations?
AC: An old and worn copy of Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass and What She Found There, which belonged to my grandmother; bins full of photographs of my family through the years (no one else really wanted them, so they found their place with me); a white lace slip dress a friend gifted me from one of my favorite thrift stores back home; my copy of How To Not Always Be Working by Marlee Grace of Have Company; and a sketchbook the one of my closest friends made for me.
AD: Do you use social media on a daily basis and if so, do you feel that is helps you to build community in ways that non-virtual interaction does not? That is, do you feel that you have 'virtual friends' who are essential to your creative community? How does this inform your work day-to-day, if at all?
AC: As much I would like to limit my use of social media/the internet in general, I definitely am connected to these platforms on a frequent basis. I think that because of the time we are living in, I am really lucky to have found such a community – even with folks who I have yet to meet in the real world. We are so connected and our bonds are very strong. I find a lot of inspiration online, especially if my friends/anyone I admire is making interesting work – it helps break up my stagnation at times, that is, for those periods when I am feeling blocked or uninspired. Perhaps, the biggest influence (besides the community itself and the friends I have made) is the possibility for being introduced to new ideas, techniques, artists, shops, and books. I am quite grateful for the time we live in and the connections that are fostered with social media.
AD: What does 'slow' design or living mean to you?
AC: For me, it is being present in my life and in my work. I am not always very good at this, but I try to just be in the moment, be thankful for what I have in life, and in turn, make thoughtful and meaningful work. I also believe that it is important, as a person who doesn’t always find the boundaries between “work” and “non work”, to create parameters for myself and slow down to do things outside of creating or teaching that are important for my mental health (such as reading, laying in the quiet, going on walks, eating a meal with no distractions).
AD: Tell us more about the goals for your new community-based art + textile project, Toska Studio in Gainesville, Florida (where you have re-settled post life in Brooklyn)? You have accomplished so much with this programming in such a short period of time. Where do you see the project going in 2016?
AC: Thank you so much! We have been on a hold since the holidays while I figure out the next step; I am currently planning out and plotting some possible summer programming and pop up workshops. I would like this year to set the course for what we do in the future...my personal life has been in a state of flux and the studio has been suspended while I figure some things out. I hope that as I ease back into working on the studio, I can find a place and a path for us to grow and thrive. My ultimate goal is to be a community center where folks can learn, teach, and connect with others. Small steps surely until that happens, but it has been a great learning experience, and I am thankful for all the support and advice I have received over this past year.
AD: If you could travel anywhere in the world over the next months, where would you go? (and if travel is not a possibility or desire), is there a specific culture or region that fascinates you currently?
AC: 2015 was a pretty stagnant year for me, and I am lucky that the first few months of 2016 I have been able to do some traveling. I went to Los Angeles in January, and I recently concluded a nine day residency at Have Company, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. If I could truly go anywhere, oh, man, I would go everywhere! I have never been out of the country before, and I think it would just be a wonderful experience wherever I could go. As far as stateside, I would really like to go on a road trip out west – just driving across the country with my partner, staying in tiny motels and exploring, soaking up all the history and beauty our country has to offer.
AD: Is there a tool from the past that you feel needs to be re-introduced? Or rather, is there a modified tool that you think would make your creative life more complete?
AC: I would love to begin spinning my own yarn. I have been looking into spindles, specifically Navajo spindles, which require the use of one's body/thigh for spinning. I think the act of using my body to spin, a slow practice in itself, would be a perfect tool for my current work, not just for fiber, but my goal to be more present and in the moment. I think spinning would open up a new avenue for me art wise, but also bring me back down to earth during times when I feel especially lunar.
islands of hand-embroidered paper that Anny Crane made for our collaboration
AD: What hue or texture has made the most impression on you?
AC: Beiges and greys really resonate with me. I suppose beige alpacas are probably my ideal combination (source) for hue and texture...plus, they are so dang cute.
Anny Crane's work will be featured in the new book, Alchemy: The Art and Craft of Illustration, available for pre-order on Amazon.com here.
Follow the trail to Anny Crane on Instagram.
All images courtesy of the artists.