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Artist ID: 2474

My work is a reflection of my life. I grew up in Alabama where football was religion and religion was law. I cared for neither, but still I was raised in a strict, religious, single-parent home with 5 siblings. We never quite fit in – we lived in a good neighborhood, but when my father took off we had no means to get by. My mom found low paying work as a secretary and later, took on a waitressing job at an all-night diner so that she could be home to put us to bed at night and get us ready for school in the morning. I don’t know when she slept. We learned to get by, hide our needs, and pretend we were okay, but every day was a struggle to afford even our basic living expenses. We all worked odd jobs to help out: a paper route, babysitting, lawn and pet care. I longed for anyone to see our pain and offer an escape to the constant struggles. When that didn’t come, I learned to wear my struggles as a carapace. I tried to mirror my mom’s indefatigable drive, grand expectations, and hard-won successes, but I knew the feeling of invisibility.
It is perhaps because of this that I am drawn to architectural facades and how they cover up or alter the exterior of buildings. They act as a shell for what is beneath, often adding ornament and perceived value to something ordinary, but they also act to conceal.

My paintings tend to be labor intensive, pattern-based abstractions and within each I intentionally rely on imperfections of my hand to reveal limitations in the systems I create. It is easy to view my work as geometric abstraction, never noticing the deliberate flaws. I am interested in creating an allusion of mechanical precision that gives way under close scrutiny. In this body of work, I cover over a completed painting with a screen of pattern. Hints of the previous work show through gaps while other covered-over elements leave telltale surface scars in the paint surface. These elements are present, but not visually dominant and require careful observation – like a palimpsest where one thing covers over another but the erasure is incomplete. Within my work, I explore ideas of scaffolding and protection, barriers and limitations, evolution and change. Buzz Spector wrote about my work, “the finished object bears within it the traces of what was unmade” … “these paintings are less so many shrouds than they are bed linens with living limbs beneath.” Whether referencing the invisibility of the working class, systemic injustice, a network so large that the individual too often gets lost, or even the impulse hide any perceived shortcomings within a veil of subterfuge, my work is a response to systemic imbalance and a struggle to be noticed.

Anne Stagg is an artist and educator living and working in Tallahassee, Florida. Anne is known for her colorful paintings that explore aspects of her Southern upbringing using abstract and non-objective imagery. Her work expands from examinations of the intersections of systemic policy, social systems, representation, and absence. She looks critically at power structures as an examination of the way that Southern traditions can be a smokescreen for discriminatory practices and false narratives and draws upon current events. “Systems are manifest in every aspect of our lives, but they are never perfect. Often elaborate in construction, there is always something a little bit off and underneath the ‘unintended consequences’ of their design belies deep histories of oppression and systemic failure.” She is interested in the façade and moments that precede failure: when the promise it still present but the veil begins to lift and there is an awareness that something isn’t quite right. Color and pattern are touchstones in her work and she paints on canvas, paper, and felt constructions.

In addition to being an Assistant Professor at The Florida State University where she serves as Co-director of the Foundations Program in the Department of Art, Stagg co-hosts and co-produces a podcast about contemporary art called The Open Call. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and she is the recipient of several grants and fellowships. Her artwork and more information can be found at http://www.annestagg.com and @anne_stagg_studio.

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