The Bear by Anne StannerIn her January/February exhibit at the Ottendorfer Branch longtime Lower East Side resident and artist Anne Stanner showcases some of her sculptures which were created from recycled scrap metals. You can view three of her pieces here (The Bear, Horses and Antelope, and The Bull) from her series "Dreams of Lascaux." You can view the rest of her exhibit on the first floor of the branch until the end of February. I sat down with Anne to discuss her work:
You’re a long time resident of the Lower East Side...
I moved here with my daughter in 1971. I grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens but when the opportunity came to move here I took it. I worked in the city so I wanted to live here too.
Were you always interested in art?
I received a BA from Queens College in English Literature and after college worked as a teacher in NYC schools, as a Personnel Director in a hospital and then much later for the NYC Department of Human Resources as an analyst. My mother used to paint, I used to watch her work on her oil paintings when I was little. Sometimes she would lend me her oil paints. When I was in my mid-twenties I felt a need to make art.
So what steps did you take to make your dream happen?
I found a private art studio and took a clay sculpture class. The teacher was very encouraging. I then took some undergraduate art courses and later on obtained a Masters of Fine Arts from the City College of New York. I studied welding. The average public finds that unusual for a woman but there are actually a lot of female artists who weld. Prior to and during art school I held down odd jobs here and there.
What was the oddest?
My daughter loved horses, and she loved going to Central Park and watching the horse carriages. She befriended one of the owners and one day she suggested I work for him. He trained me and for three months I drove a carriage in Central Park.
Tell me about the series you are exhibiting here at the branch. Horses and Antelope by Anne Stanner
The exhibit is a combination of two series I worked on in the '90s. The Dreams of Lascaux series is based on cave paintings in France. I saw replicas at an exhibit in The Museum of Natural History as well as photographs in books. The Mysterious Languages series came about because something about foreign language and the difficulty of communicating intrigues me.
Where do you collect your recycled metals?
I find them on the streets, in basements of buildings, and from friends who save stuff for me. My husband and I bought a house upstate and I found a lot of old farm equipment that I have used. There is also a landfill that has a section full of scrap metal. I did a series of masks once using stove tops and other materials. I usually start with a concept but I am also inspired by what I find.
Do you still currently weld?
Now I work with clay and wax but I am currently a technical instructor in the Arts Student’s League metal program, and still do some welding.
This isn’t your first library exhibit...
No, I exhibited some of my work at the Tompkins Square branch and in December I will again be exhibiting some of my work there as part of Sculptors Alliance.
The Bull by Anne StannerWhy exhibit at the library?
The library is the repository of accumulated knowledge, literature and culture, much of it in book form but also in movies and other media. Visual art is an important part of this knowledge, as well as being enjoyable. The library is also a place where a lot of people gather. I am happy to be part of this passed on knowledge, to share my artwork with the community where I live and to hopefully add pleasure and inspiration the patrons' day.