Anne Stanner is an extremely accomplished artist, specifically in the sculpture medium. Based in New York, Anne is the President of the Sculptors Alliance, Inc. and has created a series of Creative Sculpture Workshops that are open to adults of various ages and artistic abilities. In fact, Anne has an impressive resume regarding teaching: she has led sculpture classes at the YMCA and her primary job is as a welding/metal sculpture technical instructor at the famed Art Students League. Additionally, Anne has seen her work on public display in galleries, parks, and other spaces throughout NYC and the greater Tri-State area.
Anne was born and grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens NYC and moved to the East Village as an adult. She and her husband also maintain a residence and studio upstate in the Hudson Valley. As a child, she spent summers on her aunt and uncle’s chicken farm in Massachusetts, where she found an appreciation of nature and the countryside. Anne earned a Master in Fine Arts from The City College of NY and a BA in English from Queens College. She also studied art, with an emphasis on sculpture, at a number of other schools including: Hunter College; The New School; Empire State College; Instituto Allende in San Miguel d’Allende, Mexico; and the Art Students League of NY.
Over the course of her career Anne has received many honors, including a merit scholarship at the Art Students League and was selected to participate in their Model to Monument (M2M) program in 2012-13, where she created a monumental public sculpture, “Wave” which was installed in Riverside Park South, NYC, for one year. It now resides permanently at Rockland Community College in Suffern, NY. She also received a Popular Award at an Art Society of Kingston (NY) exhibit, a cash award for sculpture at the Salmagundi Club, NYC, and an award for sculpture at two CCNY Art Alumni Exhibits. In 2014, she was thrilled to receive a Career Achievement Award from the Art Alumni of CCNY.
“I have always had a passion for art and especially three dimensional art,” Anne stated in a brief biography. “As a child, I recall gluing shells together to create vertical cairn-like sculptures, and I enjoyed sketching and oil painting landscapes, still lives, people, and animals. As an adult, I began sculpting in clay, doing semi abstract forms of animals and people, moved on to stone carving and then welding metal.” Currently, Anne’s practice includes sculpting in clay from the posed human model as well as continuing to experiment with metal sculpture. Recently, this Examiner had the pleasure of interviewing Anne about her experiences working in the arts:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): How and when did you decide to become an artist?
Anne Stanner (A.S.): I’m not sure it was a conscious decision. Becoming an artist is more of a calling. Of course I did the usual drawings and paintings as a young child in school and at home. I began to consciously be attracted to artwork when I was about 13 years old. The father of my best friend whom I met in Junior High School was a serious and prolific painter and I think this subliminally influenced me. I loved his paintings – mainly landscape and portraits in a Cezanneesque style. He also did some clay sculpture portraits. I certainly was exposed to art before this by going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. I also saw artwork on our walls at home – mostly copies of Degas ballerina paintings. My mother was an amateur oil painter for a while and she let me use her paints and canvas, so I was exposed to it early on. As for sculpture, as noted in my bio, I remember arranging together shells that I had collected at the beach and gluing them into mini assemblages.
M.M.: Growing up, which artists/types of art interested you?
A.S.: Ancient Egyptian art, especially the stone portraits of the pharaohs, and an ancient Roman marble statue of an old woman that I saw at the Metropolitan Museum caught my attention. I also liked abstract patterns. Later on, as a young adult, I discovered the welded sculpture of the great American artist, David Smith. Other notable influences for metal sculpture are Julio Gonzales, Picasso, and a more contemporary American, Richard Hunt.
M.M.: How would you describe your work and what inspires it?
A.S.: My sculptural practice embodies several media and themes. My figurative sculpture is inspired by the nude model; the human form is endlessly fascinating and expressive, and has been a major subject of artists since prehistoric times. My figures are sculpted in clay and then fired in a kiln or cast via a mold into plaster, cement, or aqua resin. I have also created relatively realistic sculptures and bas reliefs of horses in wax and then cast them into bronze. As a child I loved horses, dogs, and my parakeet, and loved to draw them. I completed a small series in welded steel of our dog Bessie. This was a memorial to her when she suddenly disappeared or was stolen from a NYC street corner when I had taken her out. I have also been inspired by African art – especially the masks and sculpture. I’ve completed masks and 3D assemblages from found metal objects which can be variously scary or whimsical. One of the major themes in my metal sculpture has been waves. This is inspired by childhood memories and delight at being at the beach, swimming in the ocean, and being one with nature. This series combines geometry in the form of curved triangles and spirals, and elemental forces.
M.M.: How did you go about getting into galleries?
A.S.: I have mostly shown in alternative settings such as libraries, building lobbies, schools, arts organizations, and some gallery and museum group shows. I belong to and am a board member of three artists’ organizations which arrange shows at various venues in the NYC metropolitan area. In order to get into a gallery these days, you mainly need to be recommended by someone in their “stable” of artists, respond to a call for artists sent out by some galleries and museums, or join a coop gallery. On occasion, I have responded to the call and been accepted by some galleries and I have sought out shows on my own, mostly at libraries.
M.M.: Do you have a favorite piece? If so, which one and why?
A.S.: A favorite piece is my public sculpture, “Wave”, which is installed at Rockland Community College in Suffern, NY. This is nearly ten feet high, composed of stainless and regular steel curved triangles in a cresting wave formation; frolicking within the waves are colorfully painted striped bass. The chance to create this piece was initially awarded through a competitive proposal to the NYC Parks Department in collaboration with the Art Students League of NY and responds to the natural environment, cycles, and history of the Hudson River, where it was initially sited. I had for many years thought about doing a public sculpture and was excited to have this opportunity to fulfill my dream.
M.M.: What are your mediums of choice?
A.S.: My preferred mediums are clay and steel. With clay, I mostly do figurative sculpture based on a live model; the clay is then either fired in a kiln or cast into another material such as plaster, cement, or aqua resin. I have also worked in wax, and then cast the sculpture into bronze. In steel, I weld semi abstract or abstract forms using an oxy-acetylene torch or an electric MIG welder.
M.M.: Are there any mediums that you haven’t worked with yet but hope to soon?
A.S.: I would actually like to study printmaking some day. I greatly admire prints but have done very little of this and the process has always seemed mysterious, although I have read about it. However, there needs to be the hands on experience to really understand it. As for sculptural media, I may want to work more with wire and papier maché. These are so lightweight!
M.M.: How did you get involved with the Sculptors Alliance?
A.S.: I used to attend the welding studio at the Educational Alliance Art School on the Lower East Side. Back in 1980, several of we sculptors working in various media decided to join forces as a cooperative, with the main goal of exhibiting together. Sculptors Alliance was born! It is not affiliated with the Educational Alliance and we became an official 501 (c) 3 non-profit in 2002. We evolved from only arranging exhibits into presenting Creative Sculpture Workshops for adults. These are held downtown NYC in an East Village library, the YMCA, and last summer at Governors Island. These have been supported by public fund grants from the New York State Council for the arts and donations.
M.M.: To date, what has been the most rewarding experience involving your artwork and/or being an artist?
A.S.: It’s hard to choose one experience but my public sculpture is certainly up there as a peak moment in my artistic career. Another proud experience is receiving a Career Achievement Award from my alma mater, City College of NY. Being President of Sculptors Alliance, Inc., writing proposals and receiving the grants, as well as arranging the free sculpture workshops has been very rewarding. One of our best workshops, in wood sculpture, was held last summer at Governors Island. In conjunction with this we held a sculpture exhibit entitled “Speaking Volumes … and Voids,” in which 14 sculptors, working in various media, participated.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become an artist?
A.S.: Never give up! Keep practicing and exploring your art, and realize not all success is measured by getting into a gallery or selling your work. Also, take time to look at other art and be inspired or even influenced by it. Find your own path, but don’t ignore the other great and/or innovative artists and cultural art traditions that have gone before. Seek out mentors who are encouraging and whose work you admire.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
A.S.: For the month of January 2016 I am having a solo “Spotlight” exhibit at the Arts Society of Kingston (ASK), NY. This will be a retrospective of semi-abstract steel and figurative sculpture in various media from several of the themes that I have been working on for much of my creative life. The show runs from Saturday, January 2, with an opening that evening from 5-8pm, through Friday, January 29th. Gallery hours are Tues-Sat, 12-6 pm. ASK is located at 97 Broadway, Kingston, NY 12401. I also currently have a mixed media wall sculpture, “Writhe,” in a show entitled “Wreath Interpretations” at the NYC Parks Department Gallery in the Arsenal building on Fifth Avenue and 64th Street. It is open M-F, 9-5, until January 7th.
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To learn more about Anne Stanner visit her official website. To learn more about the Sculptors Alliance, Inc., see here. Anne can also be found on Facebook and LinkedIn.