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I first noticed Anne Labovitz’s work in 2009 at an art opening titled Journeys at Lizzard’s Gallery downtown. Labovitz has been painting professionally for nearly thirty years, and frankly, I am partial to works by people who simply love to paint.
Thursday June 6, the Tweed Museum will be hosting an opening reception in her honor, presenting a new collection of portraits that will be on display from June 4 through August 11. This current exhibit explores the manner in which feelings and memory influence relationships. I very much look forward to this show.
EN: Where did you grow up and what were the influences that led you to the study of art at Hamline University?
Anne Labovitz: I grew up in Duluth, close to Lake Superior. I found great strength in the lake and imagery of it appears in many of my landscape paintings. Also, my grandmother, Ella Labovitz, was an artist and would have me sit for her to do my portrait. Subsequently, portraiture has been a focus of mine throughout my professional career.
I am intrigued by the notion of identity and memory. My earliest memories and mementos were preserved in a red wooden box stored in my closet. This desire to preserve and maintain drives my work.
EN: In addition to making art, you also seem to have a passion for teaching art. What led you in this direction?
AL: I love art and I love people. It is my passion for art and the desire to make it available to everyone that motivates me to teach. I enjoy interacting with humans, being their guide as I channel the creative process through and with them.
EN: How does the creative process work for you? Where do ideas come from?
AL: Ideas flow in and through me all the time. The creative process flows in the studio and out of the studio. It is in my every breath. My senses intake information every day that supports and inspires my artistic practice. For example, witnessing a family interacting together at the airport and sharing space together is inspiring for me. How they relate to each other as a family is part of their identity, both as a whole and as individuals. I think about the formation of identity, our connectedness with one another, and the overlapping and shadowing of experiences that accumulate and eventually form the individual and the unit. My own personal relationships are a source of inspiration.
EN: As I understand it, the portrait series at the Tweed in June is not simply about painting faces. What’s the bigger picture here and why?
AL: The work is an exploration of identity, with shadows, fragments, and stop frames of multiple people and images melded together to create one image that reads like an individual human. Each image is a composite form of many individuals. Within the many layers, relationships and dialogue emerge.
EN: What lessons have you learned about yourself in the past year through making art?
AL: The more my artwork evolves and the more mature it becomes, the closer it resides within my core set of passions and the truer it feels.
EN: Why is art important in young people’s lives today?
AL: It is an amazing form of expression available to everyone. All of us living, breathing humans have the need to express ourselves, our ideas, thoughts, desires, and to experiment. Mark-making through art, whether music, theater, words, or two-dimensional art, is a universally available outlet! This is not to say that all people need to become professional artists or serious about their art form. It is, however, an available mode of expression and exploration.
EN: Your work has been shown in a lot of places a long ways from home. Do you ever worry about things being damaged in transport?
AL: Great question. I am happy to ship my work almost anywhere to give it the opportunity to be seen. I love to share my work with others. In some ways it comes alive in the eyes of the viewer.
EN: Do you have any other kinds of worries that keep you awake at night?
AL: I require very little sleep, so painting and working in the studio usually keeps me up at night, but in a good way. I love to be in the studio every chance I get.
EN: They say life is a journey. What’s your destination?
AL: The journey of my art-making practice is an intense one riddled with hard work. I love to work hard, exploring different mediums and pushing the boundaries of everything I am working with in the studio. The closer I get towards understanding myself and what drives me, the stronger, more intense, more powerful my artistic voice becomes and it presents with clarity and integrity.
EN: If life were a card game, what kind of hand are you holding?
AL: Goodness! I am not a card player. Whatever the best hand is, I must have it! I feel like I am in the prime of my life as well as my artistic career. I am very grateful for my life and the privilege to pursue my artistic profession.