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Conversations with Ann Diener

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ann Diener.

Hi Ann, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I didn’t realize that one could have a career making art until I was an adult. As a child, I was fascinated with artists and their practices gleaned from reading magazines in the library. While in elementary school, I recall reading articles about Claire Falkenstein and her sculptures made with wire and glass and Millard Sheets and his mosaic murals. I was intrigued with the imagery they created, the scale and individualism of their work and the creative lives they led.
It looked like something I wanted to do, although I had no idea how to make it happen. Growing up in a working class family in Oxnard, one was expected to have a reliable job or career. Without art classes in elementary or high school, I found classes offered by the local parks and recreation department and later at the community college and made art (mostly drawings) every day. Those early habits of drawing every day since childhood remain with me today; I just assumed I’d be an artist one day. After receiving a degree in art from UCLA, I have been continually growing my drawing and installation practice and exhibiting widely.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
For me, the real challenge of making art is to carve out large chunks of time. Both making the work and developing my ideas are slow processes. The drawings are accumulations of nature, architecture, historical photographs, patterns, charts and maps. After doing a lot of research on these subjects, I develop a personal visual language of forms, informed by what I observe around me, images I’ve collected from various sources, as well as by everything I read. Using a wide vocabulary of images (omit this and constructed spaces), I start drawing the images, adding and subtracting forms until a narrative emerges. While the narrative may not be readily apparent, the challenge is to make something with which the viewer will want to engage and question. The artwork that I make is about layered challenges and nuances. With each drawing, I set up assignments and problems to solve regarding formal aspects of the pieces and content so that each new work builds on and amplifies my previous drawings.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am interested in the notion of place, how it is formed and how it changes. Through drawings and installations, I trace and map the layered history of place, unearthing archives of the built environment, exploring geographical patterns of movement and analyzing the ways that spaces are re-invented over time by successive groups of people. I am interested in questioning our pre-conceived notions of how one occupies, creates, and defines space. Using excessive mark making and overlapping forms, the works contain an oversaturation of imagery. They are accumulations of images of nature, architecture, historical photographs, patterns, maps and charts that I weave into diverse narratives.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
The luckiest break I received was to go to UCLA as an art student. Both the faculty of working artists and students were accomplished and interesting. Observing them and being on a campus and in a city with so any resources was an extraordinary opportunity to learn. I benefitted from the wealth of studio and art history classes available, as well as from the myriad of classes I took in the sciences and literature. Information from these diverse subjects have given me a platform for lifelong learning which informs my work every day. Timing has been lucky for me as well as my work speaks to contemporary issues regarding the environment and social structures. I am also extremely lucky to have interesting and accomplished friends both in and out of the art world who expand my wide array of interests: literature, law, architecture, the sciences, foreign languages and the natural world.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Personal photo credit, Joy Peters Photography, Los Angeles photos of artwork by Elon Schoenholz Photography, Los Angeles

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