Today is the first in a series of posts about artists and how they tell story through their work. This is a great project because it has given me a little window into their souls. Over the next few weeks I will post a different artist’s interview so that we can see how people who use different mediums celebrate story.
Come with me and let’s take a peek together!
SR: I’m so excited that you have taken the time to share! Can you tell us a little bit about who you are?
Artist: My name is Anna Napier-Hood and I am an Art Teacher and practicing artist in Charlotte, North Carolina. I also do quite a bit of hand carved block printing.
SR: Why is art important to you?
Artist: Art is important to me because it allows me to get in touch with a very primal place in the brain that helps me understand and sort the world around me. It helps me form opinions and express emotions that need to be expressed.
SR: What is the medium you work with the most and how did it become “your” medium?
Artist: My degree is in printmaking and most of my work is either graphite drawings or block printing; although I sometimes paint or use water-soluble graphite. Simple drawing became my media in my first years in school when I realized my weakest area was rendering images accurately (basically—I couldn’t draw). So, I made it my major (drawing and printmaking go hand in hand and are combined into one major at most schools) at University of North Carolina at Charlotte and really found that I excelled within it. It became how I was able to best express myself.
SR: How do you express story through your medium?
Artist: Story in art is very different than story in film or literature. While some forms of art, like illustration, can give the viewer a broader spectrum of information, most pieces of art are snap shots of single events or parts of stories. For me, most of my art is a non-fiction story that expresses little moments in my life that have had an impact on me. For example: I had a very unique up bringing that included lots of different countries and cultures. In my adult life, I am drawn to these bits of my “story” and I like to make them real again through drawings.
Specifically, I have worked on a series of drawings of only African animals. As a little kid living in different countries the things I remember the most are the crazy little moments like a baboon chillin’ on our back fence eating orange slices. This animal imagery is still vivid in my mind 30 years later. I can recount that old story simply through a drawing. The action of making the drawing transports me back to the original event, and I can visit with the people who were a part of it. I can relive the story just like it was a movie or book over the period of creating that piece. The end product is an amazing flash of “story” every time I see it.
Beyond those cultural events, most of my art are mementos or souvenirs of little events that have stuck in my mind. These events are either about my own life, or others lives I am watching around the world. They are markers of a giant connected plot line in our collective “story” as an entire population. They may not be chronological or seem to have relevance to each other, but as a whole they will tell a biography of the time I have been on the earth, good or bad, interesting or dull, happy or sad.
SR: Just for fun, and because this is what we talk about in The Story Realm:
Currently: What is your favorite:
a. book: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry . I read this book frequently as an art teacher because I feel like it keeps my mind close to the little guys that I try to teach every day.
b. movie: The Place Beyond the Pines by Derek Cianfrance.
c. TV show: Transgender. Though this show is full of controversial issues and very adult subject matter, at its core it is a story of adult children struggling with their own lives while taking care of aging parents. It’s about multi-generational family problems that date back to before the 1st world war. It’s about how your faith fits in with life choices others are making around you. It’s about the different stages of life we will all go through. It’s beautiful. And the music in it tells its own story. (Rating: R for language, sexuality and adult situations)
(Please take the time to visit the link to Anna’s Etsy shop: HoodlumPrints and see her block print stationary. Those same prints are available on different types of merchandise at RedBubble under the same shop name.)
I am so thankful to Anna for taking the time to share with us a glimpse of her artistic view and journey. What amazing things are the mind and creativity! How sadly grey our lives would be without the ability to engender story in so many ways. And how gloriously and miraculously unique each of us were created to be and that we are given the ability to reflect that in our own artistic creations. I hope you will check in next week to read about our next artist’s story.