Artist Anne Lemanski was pleased to be accepted into ArtPrize Seven. Her 12 painting series titled Blue Go-Go is a beautiful piece, full of the imagery of science and nature. At 42 inches wide and 54 inches tall, it draws the viewer deep into a deliberately frenetic space that uses color and photos to explore the relationships between man, nature, and the world we inhabit today.
Anne created her masterpiece during a ten week residency at McColl Center for Art + Innovation in Charlotte, North Carolina. Each print was created from hand cut collages, which Anne carefully cut from vintage science and nature encyclopedias, then enlarged on a large-format printer using archival pigments and Somerset Velvet paper.
According to Katie Moore, ArtPrize Exhibitions Director, “ArtPrize has an open call to artists and venues, and it is also independently organized, which is what makes the event so unique. Anyone can participate, but they have to connect to a venue or artist. The connections process is all done through our website, we like to compare it to online dating. The better your profile, your art and your story, the better your chances of making a connection. Over 1,700 artists connected to venues.”
Anne connected with the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and her work will be displayed as part of their ArtPrize 2015 exhibition, Nature/Nurture. At its most basic, the nature/nurture concept considers whether we are a product of our DNA, our environment, or some combination of both. The exhibition includes a wide range of media from fifteen artists from across the United States, all of whom engage the theme in unique ways, including family and heredity, genetics, childhood, learned behavior, spirituality and belief, and gender roles and identity.
According to Ron Platt, Chief Curator at GRAM, “When I saw images of Anne’s Blue Go–Go series, I knew I wanted them for the exhibition. For the collages, she cut out images from vintage science and nature encyclopedias and rearranged them against backgrounds from an old math textbook. She’s thinking about how what we learn and what we know changes over time – even science, which is presented as cold hard fact. Released from their pages, these animals, plants, charts, and gemstones form unlikely new configurations. It’s as if everything we learned at school one day went rogue – anarchy in the classroom. The prints she made from the collages are so enormous, they make us feel small, like kids again.”
This isn’t Anne’s first time at ArtPrize. Her sculptural piece titled A Century of Hair, 1900-1990 was on display at the first event in 2009. We wanted to know more about Anne’s inspiration for this year’s piece, and how color played a role in its creation. Here’s what she had to say.
X-Rite Pantone: How does the science of color inspire you, and how do you infuse it into your artwork?
Anne Lemanski: One of the most important classes I had in college was a color theory class. I’ve previously been asked to talk about the use of color in my work, and my best answer is that I use color very instinctually. I’m not afraid of color. I love intense saturation, and using color to move the viewer’s eye through a piece…whether it be sculptural or two-dimensional. At this point, I would say the science of color is buried in my sub-conscious, and I go with my gut.
X-Rite Pantone: Why did you choose the color blue as the base for your collages?
Anne Lemanski: The two backgrounds used for the Blue Go-Go collages are the inside covers from a 1959 mathematics book. I chose them not only for the color, but also for the geometric patterns, which give the collages a visual interest without being too narrative. However, I love a good blue! I use blue a lot in my work. I think it’s a very soothing color that pulls people in.
X-Rite Pantone: It appears that most of your work, including your entry into ArtPrize One, is 3D. What attracted you to create Blue Go-Go in two dimensions?
Anne Lemanski: I went into the (McColl Center for Art + Innovation) residency knowing I wanted to make use of their large format printer, and that I did not want to work on sculpture. The imagery is all cut from vintage nature and science encyclopedias, which I have been collecting over the past 25 years. I’m very drawn to the look and color of vintage imagery. Creating collages was a great exercise for my brain.
X-Rite Pantone: Did this decision to create in 2D force you to think differently about color and lighting?
Anne Lemanski: Dealing with composition, pattern and color on a small scale (the original collages are 8 x 11 inches), then enlarging it to 42 x 54 inches, was extremely gratifying…every large print was a surprise! There is also a range of colors that show up in the Ben-Day dot pattern when a small image is enlarged, as I’ve done for Blue Go-Go. I approach color in the same way for both 2-D and 3-D work.
X-Rite Pantone: Each of the twelve Blue Go-Go pieces is printed on velvet paper. What made you decide to use this material? How does it affect the color?
Anne Lemanski: Yes, I used Somerset Velvet paper, which is made specifically for inkjet printing. I have experimented with various types of papers, and found the Somerset Velvet to be best suited for the quality of print I was after. It really soaks up and enhances the saturated color beautifully, rather than just sitting on the surface of the paper. The paper is also very resilient when handled…it doesn’t crease or tear easily.
X-Rite Pantone: What does it mean to be selected to participate in Art Prize yet again?
Anne Lemanski: I participated in ArtPrize the first year it was held, with a sculptural piece titled, A Century of Hair, 1900-1990. It is amazing to see how much ArtPrize has evolved since the first year. When I completed Blue Go-Go, I knew I wanted to enter it in ArtPrize. The exposure to an audience of thousands that will walk through the Grand Rapids Art Museum is hard to resist. ArtPrize is the perfect format to get a new body of work seen. I am thrilled to be exhibiting at GRAM. The staff has been a true pleasure to work with.