Meet an Artist: Woodie Anderson
A Q&A with the artist and designer from Winston-Salem.
What she does
Screenprint making is the medium I work the most in. Screenprinting and serigraphs is really the best mix for me because I can take drawings, original artwork, sketches and things that I do, and then I can scan them in with objects that I find. I collect bits of things I find on the ground, scraps of paper, trash. I also collect instruction manuals for things, the little drawings that you get if you buy something — little graphics — and I combine those things with the drawings that I make, and that becomes the actual screenprint. So, it’s almost like a collage of my artwork.
I do a lot of work that deals with women’s issues and women’s experiences. I have an instructional sheet from a woman’s waxing kit. When you take the instructions out of context and you really look at them and the little drawings explaining how you are supposed to do it, it sort of speaks on another level at the experience of being a woman. There are some prints I’ve done in the past that have incorporated things like that. Finding these elements and then reinterpreting them or putting them together with other elements that create a new meaning. The graphic designer side of me really responds to those informational graphics. I incorporate a lot of those types of things into my work, but they are usually taken out of context and used in a different way, so it is usually twisted a little bit.
The theme of this exhibit is personal mythologies. I started thinking about the myths that we build up around ourselves; they could be religious myths or not. And then I thought of personal histories and how the two tie together, and the key image that kept coming back into my mind was Medusa from mythology. The great thing about her that I love is just the aspect that you can be your own worst enemy. I mean here is this powerful strong woman who, depending on the version of the story you’re reading, was severely mistreated, and in a way it isn’t quite fair that she ended up the way she is. She had this strength and beauty, but if she were to look in a mirror, she would destroy herself. So, you have this idea that self-critical thoughts can keep you from doing things is one of the core ideas that I wanted to include in my show. There are lots of ways to explore the themes. I did a series of Madonnas, and they are more about protection and maternal instincts. I am not a mother myself, but I feel like I understand that from friends who are mothers and being from a big family.
Back to Her Roots
I have my bachelor of fine arts in graphic design from Appalachian State University. Their school of graphic design is very arts-based, which is the reason I went there. While I was in school, I got to do a lot of fine-art work. I did take several printmaking classes, and that is where I learned the basic skills, but once I was out of school I sort of fell away from doing art for a while. Maybe in the last five years I have gotten back into it. And I remembered I really enjoyed the printmaking process. That’s when I started doing the research, finding out how I could do it at home, how to make my own studio. I am an art director, so I do a job that I love and that is related to my interests. But I realized I was getting just enough of an outlet that I didn’t notice that I had stopped doing art and expressing myself. I wanted to put something out in the world that people could respond to that was related to me and not to my clients.
If Art Could Talk
I want the art to speak to people, and it is OK if doesn’t say the same thing to them as it said to me when I was creating it. A lot of times people ask me what the story behind the piece is because it sparked a remembrance of a story that happened to them. I hesitate to tell them because it kind of ruins it for them. It spoke to them, so I guess my goal is communicating, energizing and exciting people. I think my work has a touch of irony and humor. I think for the most part that art should be interesting but enjoyable; there should be an element of fun.
Colony of Her Own
My parents have always been very supportive of the arts. My mother is an artist, and she was a stay-at-home mom. Both of my parents were always very artistic and were very nurturing and encouraging. I have always drawn and painted and created. We were raised in an environment that encouraged that — we didn’t have a television. We had a very large family, so we had our own culture, and it was a very safe environment to express yourself. I am the oldest of eight. One of my personal theories is that everyone is an artist in some way. We just sort of get it beaten out of us, or people are afraid to express themselves.
A bright future
I am really inspired by Andy Warhol and what he had to say as he got older, his encouragement to artists to just do and create and don’t worry about whether or not it’s art. Just go ahead and make it and do it and get it out there, and let someone else decide if it is art. I have really taken that to heart because otherwise you can get tripped up trying to figure things out and you start editing yourself too soon. You aren’t going to get much done that way.
Interview with reporter Erin Rainwater; 10/14/09 Go Triad, Greensboro News and Record;
Contact Erin Rainwater at firstname.lastname@example.org