In an effort to describe and defy artistic comfort zones and exploring art forms, visiting artist Anna Hepler dedicated her Thursday afternoon on Nov. 14, speaking to students and faculty at USM in Burnham Lounge of Robie-Andrews Hall.
Some of her pieces have been featured in exhibitions from Suyana Space in, Seattle, WA to the Portland Museum of Art. Her audience for the day, seeming more like distant relatives, sat back in the relaxed atmosphere enjoying lecture refreshments and snacks in residential hall furniture, observing ideas of artistic form unfolded through Hepler’s presentation.
Hepler divided her talk into three sections of her artistic career that were dictated by projects she found herself working on. She began by describing her work with a class of Bowdoin art students and an innovative printmaking project that took place within the decaying wooden floors of the former Brunswick High School. Through a collaboration of 12, the group carved designs into the floor, inked the surface and then made large prints of the work.
“It was very beautiful to turn these old floors into printmaking art,” said Hepler.
Through the process of collaboration with other artists, Hepler explained how this joint effort can test one’s boundaries.
“You no longer know which marks are yours,” said Hepler. “The baggage of authorship and originality becomes a shared feeling of pride.”
Hepler’s lecture continued on the topic of questioning conventional form with her displaying of images of 3D inflatables she designed with 2D drawings of the same object.
“The print serves as an idealized version of the inflatable,” said Hepler.
This innovative craft involves the inflation of the plastic creations every half hour. After the inflatables are filled with air they slowly decrease and viewers observe the artistic form changing and are capable of comparing the 3D presentation to its 2D counterpart print.
“I love the conversation between these parts,” said Hepler. “One experience pushes for the other. It never occurs to me to ask, ‘where is this going?’ It’s always, ‘what is the origin?’”
Carolyn Eyler, the Director of Exhibitions of the USM Art Galleries, explained the significance of inviting visiting artists to speak who are at the forefront of their field.
“She [Anna Hepler] is a mover and shaker in the community,” said Eyler. “It is important to select artists who are grounded in their own discipline.”
Students who attended the lecture gave positive feedback.
“These talks offer an opportunity for students to be exposed to art and art language,” said USM junior art major and printmaking minor Bill Freeman. “After hearing an artist’s lecture, I feel inspired to create and explore new ideas.”
Junior art major Nicole Tombarelli had similar feelings: “These talks give me a broader range of possibilities in my work and through process.”
Both Freeman and Tombarelli are art students enrolled in a printmaking course here at USM. After the lecture, Hepler attended the class meeting to work with students at the studio to offer intimate guidance in the medium.