INTERVIEW WITH ANI HOOVER
Accumulate: Works by Ani Hoover is another in a series of solo exhibits at the gallery with an emphasis on installation. Impressive were the juxtapositions of works from the very large to the moderately sized and the aggregations of colorful and sculptural components in these works, many made from repurposed materials such as recycled yarn, plastic bags, found objects, and bicycle tires. We caught up with Ani recently about her work and her return to the Williamsburg area for the closing reception.
1. Comment on your transition from painting to working with everyday materials, textiles and installation
I spent most of 2008 creating paintings for an exhibit that consisted of 6 paintings that were 30’ by 5’-- I just made a painting on whole roll of paper. The show was called Up, Down, Around. Each painting had some transition from the top to the bottom; it was quite similar in feel to the Tryptic featured in Accumulate. At the end of the exhibit, I was worn out emotionally and financially. One day I was sitting in my studio, and for some reason, my eyes went to a stack of unfinished paintings under my work table. I started looking at those works and instead of repainting them, I decided to use those works as collage material and it eventually led me to creating a number of circle and zip-tie works like the one in Accumulate called, “Astro Dot Net.” Beyond using my old paintings as “found color” to create new works, I also starting looking for recycled materials I could use to make artwork, which led me to work w/ the bike tubes, cereal bags, plastic bottles, plastic bags--basically whatever I could find a bunch of I would try to make something with it. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but it was a very creative time for me. At one point, I decided to challenge myself not to purchase any art supplies for one year. It made me look at the materials I already had in my studio w/ fresh eyes. I still try to use free, recycled, or readily available materials in my work. It’s whole different creative experience looking at a pile of discarded materials and thinking “what could I do with this?” than it is to approach a blank canvas.
2. Can you elaborate further on how memory factors into your work
Artists sometimes ask themselves questions to generate ideas for new work. Some of the works in Accumulate are direct responses from me asking myself the following question, “When was I happiest making art?” It’s a simple question, but it required a lot of self-reflection to come up with the answer. For me, my happiest art making experiences were before when I “became” an artist and before going to art school. I don’t know, but I think at some point in my development as an artist, I had some preconceived ideas about an artist is. I felt that to be an artist, you had to use “artist” materials like paint and brushes, but honestly, my happiest art-making came before I became an “artist.” My grandmother was a very accomplished crocheter; she would make afghans and stuffed animals out of yarn. There was always “how-to” craft magazines around her house; I loved looking at those magazines and dreaming up projects to do. So for me, my happiest times making art, happened before I became an “artist” and when I was making stuff with my grandma, making stuff at summer camp, or looking at craft magazines. The works, Bloom, Potholder Sampler Wall, the two trash quilts--Sewn Sky and Blush are all responses to childhood art-making memories.
3. Comment on the colors you gravitate towards. Have your choices and interests in color changed over the years?
So my artwork has changed a lot in the past ten years, but my color sensibility had remained pretty consistent. I like using light, bright colors. I tend to be attracted to colors on the “lighter” side, not quite pastels but not jewel colors either. I like neon, and I also like white and black. Lately, I’ve been interested in finding new “ways” to use color in my work, like using “reflective” color by painting the backs of pieces like in Astro Dot Net or by allowing simple colored thread to be the color in a piece like in Blush.
The one exception to this is my Rubber Garden pieces, which are all black because they are made from bicycle tubes. People asked me why I haven’t painted the rubber flowers. I don’t know, there’s just something about the black flowers that seem perfect to me, so I never had the desire to use color on the tubes.
4. Comment on the opening reception and the installation last month. Do you any particular comments and impressions about this specific installation in the Linda Matney Gallery.? Do you have any special plans for the closing?
I love the installation of this show. It all came about so unexpectedly for me. I had seen pictures of the gallery but you don’t really get a feeling for a space till your there. So when I arrived w/ my van packed to the brim with 10 years of artwork I didn’t know how it would unfold. It took about 3 days of arranging work till I started to feel like, “yes! This work goes together!”
I like the tall walls of the gallery, especially the juxtaposition of the 3 paintings at one end of the gallery and the Potholder Sampler wall at the other end. I like it when artwork is slightly bigger than human size and high ceilings at Linda Matney Gallery allowed me to play with that a little.
I’ll back in Williamsburg for the last week of the exhibit and I’m planning on spending all day on June 8th at the gallery. I’m thinking of bringing my potholder looms if anyone wants to try making their own. I might also bring a few other examples to show people how some of the works are made. I’d love to talk to people about when they were happiest making art! Contact me or Lee Matney if you have any questions for me!