An Interview with Artist, Actress and Activist Annika Connor

Caution, 36″ x 24″, oil on linen by Annika Connor

Annika Connor is busy. I learned this during the course of our exchanges via e-mail; she was on set, she has a lot on her plate, there is an endless amount of things to which Annika Connor is bound and yet: Annika Connor has a seemingly unwavering reserve of passion for all of her endeavors. She is a painter, primarily in watercolors and oil paints. She is a working Actress here in New York. She makes scarves adorned with the vibrant colors and patterns quintessential of her style, she has taken part in a variety of projects over the years from wallpaper to album covers to greeting cards. Connor helped create and is involved in an art organization whose mission is to help young, emerging artists establish themselves and she is a feminist and an activist, recently creating vivid protest paintings in response to our Catastrophe-in-Chief. I had the pleasure to interview Annika Connor and learn more about her artistic process, what inspires her and what is on her horizon.

CV: How did you discover your passion for art? When and where did your artistic journey begin? 

AC: I always loved art, as a child I started oil painting at the age of nine in the studio of my father’s friend.

CV: How would you describe your specific style and technique? 

AC: Contemporary Romantic Painting, I work in oil paints or watercolor. Color is extremely important to me. I love playing with the full spectrum of color and manipulating color harmonies and vibrancies to create an alluring composition. I use color as a hook to lure my audiences eye and intrigue them to look longer.

Artist Annika Connor

CV: Where does your inspiration come from?

AC: I pull a lot of inspiration from my own life. I have some very inspiring friends who constantly spark my creativity. I also am always on the hunt for beauty and can often be found daydreaming or exploring. In addition to painting, I work as an actress and I find life on set always lights up my imagination, too.

 CV: This is a question I ask a lot of artists: How do you arrive at what you want to paint next? 

AC: This is hard to explain, I just know on a deep subconscious level what I need to do. My ideas seep out of my gut and spill out in my studio. It’s a working method that comes from an intuitive place first and later is intellectualized.

Camus, 48″ x 36″, watercolor by Annika Connor

CV: Would you say there is a message inherent in your work?

AC: Yes but the message can vary from piece to piece. The overall thread that connects the ideas is my fascination with beauty and its ability to both enchant and destroy.

CV: What does your studio look like?

AC: It’s pretty chaotic. Paintings are hung salon style with canvases everywhere. I am lucky as I have high ceilings and great big windows, so even though it is jam-packed with art, the space still feels light and spacious.

CV: You are more than just a painter, though. Can you tell me please a little bit about your involvement with AI Productions?

AC: Yes, AIP is a company I started. The letters stand for Active Ideas Productions. I established it to explore ideas outside of my studio. To date, AIP has produced numerous panel discussions, lectures, exhibitions, and recently published an art book titled Point Suite Contemporary Art. It is a guide to the contemporary art scene and a great introduction to some fantastic fresh artists you may not have heard of yet.

Objection, 16″ x 20″, oil on linen by Annika Connor

CV: Now for the hard part. Let’s talk politics for a second and get down to the gritty. As a woman in the art world, in New York, in the United States, as a feminist and a creator, has the current political climate of not just this country but of the world changed your focus a little? 

AC: Haha! Yes, it most definitely has! I always paint whatever I want to. It just happens to be that right now I have wanted to reflect the current cultural chaos on my canvas. I have always been interested in art and activism. This current political moment has exaggerated that, of course, and post-election I began a series of protest paintings. It’s easy to see the political anger in the works that I have made since November 9th, 2016. In the studio, I raise my painting brushes in defiance and speak out about what I am thinking and feeling about America today.

CV: Do you think all (or the majority) of art being created today ought to address, directly or indirectly, the issues surrounding the hatred, greed and volatility being perpetuated by the administration? 

AC: I think the artist should always explore whatever ideas they want to. If they feel called to speak out then I would certainly encourage them to do so. However, if their work is more engaged by other (non-political) thoughts, then I don’t think they should force themselves to shift their focus if they don’t feel called to. Creatives often see what others can’t. Encouraging artists to dive into their imagination to envision new ideas is what we need to do now. We don’t need to try and convince everyone to speak with the same voice as that would result in a very boring dialogue.

CV: Okay, thanks for indulging me there. Back to some easier questions. If you weren’t an artist, what do you think you would be doing with your life?

AC: Acting. I do both right now actually and I love the creativity that my work in film and TV gives to me. While painting is always my main passion, acting is like my naughty little mistress who gives me something on the side that life alone in the studio cannot provide. Together they balance both my introspective imaginative side and my gregarious social performative self.

Because of You, 16″ x 20″, oil on linen by Annika Connor

CV: What galleries have you shown in? 

AC: I have been fortunate to exhibit with a great mix of galleries over the years. Currently, I am represented by The Untitled Space:

http://untitled-space.com/

Indira Cesarine who owns the space is whip smart and super creative. I love her vision and the feminist focused agenda of the gallery. I really admire Indira and consider myself so lucky to be working with her. You can see some of my art for sale with the gallery on Artsy at: https://www.artsy.net/artist/annika-connor

CV: What is coming up next for Annika Connor? 

That changes daily! The next fun thing is I am about to introduce a new spring scarf into my line of Annika Connor art scarves. You can see and shop the current collection at

http://www.annikaconnor.com/scarves/

For more info, please tune into to my social media:

https://www.facebook.com/AnnikaConnorArtist

Instagram: @annikaconnor

Or send me an email at http://www.annikaconnor.com/contact/

to sign up to my mailing list.

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Arte Fuse is always looking for guest writers. Please submit your story to info@artefuse.com.

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