Words and images by Courtney Marie
Anna Conner is an artist working out of Denton, TX. She's lived here since early childhood. Anna followed her parents’ footsteps to the classrooms of UNT, where she currently studies interior design. She’s currently on the prowl for new ways to share her passions, ideas, and art with others.
One visit to Anna’s meticulously-organized studio says a lot about her. She claims to dabble in everything and master nothing, but her collages are the products of great care and experience. She pours me a glass of wine and we flip through the old school books she snips pictures from. I gaze at the eclectic array of artwork covering the walls as she describes to me her dream art-project, an idea that came to her in a dream: a collection of tiny terrariums, each depicting a powerful and unexpected moment in someone’s life: a man in a diving bell lost in the jungle and adolescents embracing in a forest.
Anna is fascinated by America’s obsession with hamburgers. Fast food comes up a lot in her work. On the walls of her bedroom hang her own oil paintings of brightly-colored hamburgers: one seems to have grown human legs, the other is the body of a sea turtle. She’s in the process of planning her next artistic undertaking: 3-D fabric collages. On the docket to be created is a hand-sewn sculpture of a giant hamburger (“as tall as a small man”), bursting at the buns with odd items, and a life-sized nude elderly couple, amorously involved.
Following a disastrous internship with MTV, Anna switched her major from Radio, TV and Film to Interior Design, and looks forward to it as a career alongside her art. Of course, selling enough pieces to live off of would be ideal, but Anna feels strongly in providing art that is realistically affordable and accessible to all. She lives up to her philosophy. Having friends who are also artists encourages her to share her art and ideas with others. She loves when she is able to purchase her peers’ work and allow them to do the same. “We’re all artists and we’re all trying to work for the same thing, and it’s really nice to...support each other and buy things and have a collection, and maybe when you’re eighty one day, that person is famous and it’s worth a [lot] of money, you know, or not and you just have an amazing memory of when you were younger.”
Each of her pieces are one-of-a-kind originals; nothing is reproduced, and she is willing to work on commissioned pieces. Her desk is currently covered in tiny pictures of dogs, soon to be constructed into an advertisement for a pet groomer. To make her collages, Anna scours thrift shops and antique stores for hours, on the hunt for old illustrated books. She goes through piles of razor blades, carefully cutting out the pieces of her composite work. She keeps her projects scrupulously organized in folders, drawers, and trays around her studio.
One of Anna’s greatest struggles as an artist is what she calls involuntary dry spells. “With school and with work and everything, sometimes I don’t have the time...It’s the worst, because I just have all these ideas and I feel like I’m losing them and forgetting them and they’re disintegrating into my mind, you know, leaving my body.”
Anna offered some advice to fellow creatives who struggle with dry spells, “Sometimes, I turn it into the most amazing experience.” She describes how, inspired by a song writing project launched by her boyfriend, she pushes herself to create at maximum capacity for a very short amount of time. She does this especially when she feels uninspired. “I try to knock out ten pieces in twelve hours.” One of the pieces she created during this exercise, “Red Cross Wishes for Vacation,” ended up being a favorite. She’s even been contacted to use it as a T-shirt design.
If you can’t find her in Denton, Anna’s probably at one of the skate parks in Lewisville or Allen, grinding poles with her BMX bike, christened Princess Diana. You can tell she means business by the banged-up bike tattooed on her left shin. She also works closely with UNT’s Italian Club, hosting occasional Italian-language movie nights in her home.