The past twelve months seems to have been a constant string of negativity, especially – until recently, at least – from the US. But American artist Anne Vieux has just created public artwork that we can smile about in collaboration with ARKanvas, a statewide engagement bringing public art by world-renowned artists to Arkansas communities. Anne’s new work – /meta_material by Anne Vieux – corresponds with the initiative’s theme of United, which has been curated by Justkids in partnership with Unexpected. A 21st century artist, Anne is inspired by innovation, but maybe less obviously, she works in the great tradition of artists who use tools incorrectly. Innovation through misuse is a key part of how artists are responding to technology, and for ARKanvas, Anna used scanners and holographic paper to explore how she could manipulate light, colours and shapes. We spoke to Anne about technology, light and hopes for 2021.
When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?
I grew up in Oklahoma, where the weather, earth, horizon and sky are very present each day. I think my fascination with colour and capturing ephemeral moments was touched by this. I didn’t have a talent or interest in anything else really, so it just made sense.
Can you tell us about your contribution to ARKanvas?
Thinking about this building, in Bentonville, I was reminded of driving through the country and the vast horizons that fascinated me growing up. The sudden shifts in weather patterns, the intensity of color, fear and moments of awe it can create.
My piece, “/meta_material,” is a digital painting that creates an illusion of a hyper-fluid space. A rectangle conjured in earthen tones, for example, floats weightlessly on the left side of the building, while sections of it are cropped, expanded, and repeated across the building’s colonnade to the right. This repetition of form creates a visual topography that is underscored by the technological glow emitted from the combination.
Meta-material can be defined as any substance that has been engineered to have a property that is not naturally occurring. In this piece I wanted to blur boundaries between the real and the virtual. The viewer is empowered to explore these painterly effects on an experiential scale. By pushing past the tropes of painting as a window, mirror, or frame unto another world, I was interested in compressing it into a screen space, thereby playing on historical models of abstraction and the elusive sublime.
What was it like making public art in the US given the current political climate?
Making art is always kind of an absurd act to me; and especially in this recent turbulent political climate. Although my work is abstract, I think particular aesthetics have their own radical underpinnings. Thinking of the theme “Unite,” I reflected on my painting concepts in a cultural and political context, thinking disrupting and dissolving boundaries and creating a fluid space, where there is room to grow anew.
Why do you think it’s important to make art that’s positive right now?
Art brings conversations together in unexpected ways and has a lot of potential for healing.
Can you tell us about your approach to working with new technologies?
There is a particular history of abstract painting in response to scientific and technological developments. These new ways of seeing and perceiving phenomena creates a ripe environment for exploration. Adapting to the timing and experience of media through these filters makes painting exciting for me.
Your work seems to emit light, is that intentional?
I think of this mediated light and color as a physical material, and yes, intend for the work to emit a screenlike glow. 🙂
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on some pieces that will be up at The Journal gallery soon in New York City, and some small projects. At the end January, I’m releasing a digitally collectable NFT piece, with foundation.app curated by Lindsay Howard. It uses blockchain technology to verify ownership by purchase with cryptocurrency. I also will have an editioned puzzle project released soon with artist Morgan Blair’s project Puzzle TIme.
What are your plans and hopes for 2021?
I personally don’t have any plans. Hoping for peace, social justice, and healing!