Interview With Annie McLaughlin

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?
I'm from Long Beach, California, but I currently live in Portland, Oregon. I'm in my last year at Pacific Northwest College of Art and I grew up painting, but I am also really interested in wood, metal, clay, fibers, furniture, textiles, and domestic wares, all things tactile.

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
Spaces, pattern, texture, color. Interior design websites, magazines, my own home. When I first started making these paintings I had just moved into a house that was empty except for some rugs & plants and only a couple pieces of furniture. It has since been filled with lots of stuff (probably too much), but I still really love an empty room, and I'm an eternal sucker for landscape views.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
My studio has to look nice. Like a nice space where you want to hang out, if it's dirty or full of trashy stuff I totally can't work on anything, and I usually organize and decorate before starting a new piece.

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them?
My biggest obstacle is probably time, or the lack thereof. Being in school and working a few jobs, while trying to take care of myself and do the dishes and make time for friends, that's a lot to do! Then on top of that to be trying to make new work, that can be really overwhelming. I guess I don't really navigate around it, I just charge through. I think my favorite pieces I've made always come with a time crunch, where I'm doing a thousand things and I bang out whatever I need to, sometimes it's a chair and sometimes it's three paintings. Then everything settles and I can relax and I look back and it's like wow! I did that! It's really good for my brain.

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your visual work?  
Making things by hand, tactility, looking at our relationship to space and to the landscape. Attention to texture and pattern, things that belong in the home.

Is there a particular artist you feel you relate to? Who are your role models (artists or non-artists)?
My main artistic influences would be Anni Albers, Agnes Martin, Henri Matisse, Alice Parrot, Josef Albers, Hans Wegner, Sam Maloof, Heath Ceramics, David Hockney, Andrea Zittel, Helen Frankenthaler. Kind of all over the place, but my work tends to be all over the place. I guess I could call that multidisciplinary.

What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given?
I'm not totally sure if I can pinpoint a specific piece of advice I've been given, but there's this beautiful Virginia Woolf quote on the first page of Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay by Christopher Benfey. It sums up my outlook on art, life, and making right now, and there's a lot of artists who have taught me to feel this way but I think Virginia Woolf has articulated it best:

"And is there any reason, we ask as we shut the book, why the perspective that a plain earthenware pot exacts should not satisfy us as completely, once we grasp it, as man himself in all his sublimity standing against a background of broken mountains and tumbling oceans with stars flaming in the sky?"

Red Interior

Red Interior

Thanks, Annie!  Check out Annie's work along with other's in our current new exhibition, This Is What Is Not. Also, see more of her work here.