Anais Rumfelt has been making art forever.
Well, maybe not forever, but for most of her 40 years on the planet, she has made art in one form or another. You’ve met her here as one part of the Twirl Triumvirate, but there is much more to this beautiful and talented woman than her day job.
I first met Anais when she was a teenager, and I ran an open mic here in Taos, at the long gone End Of The Universe Cafe. Anais would occasionally read the poetry she wrote at the time, and it would be many years before I discovered she was in fact a brilliantly talented painter (from a family of talented painters.)
Her studies of nudes are at once classic in composition and contemporary in their rendering, and as a voluptuous girl in a skinny world, Anais makes a point of celebrating the female form in all of its curvature and fecund ripeness. She does not promote, nor idolize the current vogue for anorexic androgyny.
When I heard that Matt Thomas had invited Anais to show at Studio 238 at The Harwood Museum of Art, I was beyond thrilled and immediately approached her (and Zoe Zimmerman), about doing a post on the blog.
I contacted Matt as well, and instead of cobbling together a story, I thought I’d share the questions and answers I posed to them both, instead.
Matt: Anais has been making art forever – her studies of nudes are both classical and contemporary – an almost impossible fete accompli – and mostly she is known for them, but you have chosen, I hear, to instead, exhibit the birds?
I’ve been following Anais’s work for some time now. I had the opportunity to view her work downtown and was struck not only by the technique but by the dedication she made towards the creation of this most recent body of work. Studio 238 at The Harwood Museum of Art strives to showcase local artists and their new works, unseen works, or series they are exploring currently. This collection of works seemed like the perfect way to bring Anais into the museum for the first time.
Anais: I’ve known you for a long time, and am a long time fan of your work – in fact I’ve sold a few pieces in the past (when I worked at Desert Blend’s former boutique on Bent Street), and am so delighted about this upcoming show at the Harwood. What was your reaction to being invited to exhibit there?
I am honored and excited to be able to join the ranks of amazing artists that have shown at the Harwood Museum. We are very lucky to have this world-class museum in our tiny town. I have a lot of respect for an institution that supports the vast well of talent that exists in Taos and New Mexico. This is a special place, and the work that hangs at the Harwood represents that.
Matt: When I first saw her “crows” gathered about the door lintel at Manzanita Market, I was mesmerized by them, and how apt it was that they hung beneath the rafters. How do you plan to show the birds In order to capture that same “aliveness”?
We have the opportunity with Studio 238 to move the exhibition space around the museum depending upon the context, relevance and concept of each individual show. For Anais, we will be in the Peter and Madeliene Martin Atrium on the 2nd floor of the museum. This space is intimate in scale yet offers the opportunity to approach the space from an ascending staircase – where the viewer literally looks up to them and then approaches at eye level. The works will be ‘floated’ on the wall with 2″ pins and the lighting will allow for shadow lines to release the images from the wall and float before the viewer.
Anais: You come from a family of talented and accomplished artists; both your uncle (Pat Woodall) and your mother, (his sister, Katie Woodall), have shown their work here for several decades, and are well-known – how did growing up around art and artists, inform your own process?
I grew up in Taos, surrounded by a creative community and talented family… not least of all, my mother. Art was integral to our lives here and was valued as an essential part of existence. I watched my mom work many jobs to support herself and her family financially, while trying to maintain a productive creative life. She is now an artist and art teacher at Taos Charter School, and those kids are lucky to have her! I certainly feel like I am.
Matt: I think the most exciting aspect of this show, is the fact that you are showcasing a local artist who has been working under the radar for years – can we expect more of the same in the future?
YES! The line up for 2018 is being confirmed. The community should look forward for more local artists of all mediums that are sharing some provocative, new and experimental works!
Anais: You’re the mother of a teenage son, and your day job is a creative gig in itself, so in a way you have remained creative throughout Jackson’s childhood (huge accomplishment), but do you feel like you had to make art in the margins of your life during those years?
Please talk about that; about the difficulty for women to balance their nurturing instinct with their creative urge.
I have been making art throughout my son’s life, but mostly when I could fit it in, which was never consistently. Frankly, like a lot of women/mother/artists, my art was put on the back burner in deference to care-taking and working. I am awed by the perseverance and dedication it takes to be an artist and a mother. Many amazing women have had similar challenges before me and many more will continue to face this dilemma. I cannot speak to their process but I can share my own experience.
About a year ago, just before I turned 40, I decided to give myself a gift. I needed to rewrite the story I was telling myself about not having time or energy to be an artist. It was not the ideal time for it. I was single-parenting a teenager and working full-time. I challenged myself to make art every day for 30 days before my birthday. I would work all day, do kid stuff, cook kid stuff (admittedly, sometimes that turned out to be frozen pizza), and then finally settle in to drawing for 2-3 hours every night. I successfully made it through that challenge with a new perspective, and with that, launched in to what has been a very productive year of art-making. I hope to keep it going.
108 Crows was what came directly out of my drawing challenge. A friend wanted me to paint a crow, so I did. And then another. And then another. I couldn’t stop. For me, last November was a baffling and confusing time. The political climate had changed dramatically, as had my personal life. All I could think to do was make art. The crows presented a symbolism that spoke to me on a deep level. They represent mystery, magic, and transformation, and a call for authenticity and truth in communication. Crows are exceptionally adaptable and able to respond to changing conditions by altering the way they behave. I thought I could use some of that… we all could. What began with one crow became 108, a number signifying completion and wholeness in Hindu and Buddhist teachings. The Crows are painted in black ink on paper, in a repeating pattern of threes. Each one is unique and individual, but in active relationship with its neighbors.
The completion of this project has informed the direction my work. I continued to use crows as meaningful elements in the paintings that followed, which are still hanging at Manzanita Market.
108 Crows will be up in Studio 238 at the Harwood Museum (238 Ledoux Street, Taos) through November 22nd. The opening reception is Friday, November 3rd from 2-4pm. For more information please visit the Harwood’s site linked below.
Photographs of Anais by Zoe Zimmerman