Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Baltimore Minute: Artist, Anne Boisvert

Earlier this Fall, we were lucky enough to have artist, Anne Boisvert volunteer to create a mural for us, to support The Monument Quilt project. TFAP-B member, Kelly Johnson and I organized a quiet room/safe space to be available in their headquarters, and supported Anne with room preparation and logistical support. You'll see below, the incredible fruits of her labor, in both the wall mural and floor labyrinth she designed. 

We were also quite lucky that Anne was willing to take the time to talk with us about her influences, interests and habits as a visual artist. This is the very first in an ongoing interview series, a space where we are able to showcase and celebrate local women, feminists, and their art. I happily present to you, A Baltimore Minute with artist, Anne Boisvert.

Shana Goetsch: Hi Anne! Let's begin by having you tell us where you're from originally, and how you got to Baltimore... 
Anne Boisvert: I grew up a military brat and moved all over. I've been in Maryland the longest so I call this home. Baltimore is an amazing place to live and upon moving here for MICA, it has given me a taste of the urban artistic life style and exposure to the art community.

S: What is your background in art?

A: I have always been artistic and expressed myself through music at an early age. In high school I began creating more visual art. This continued through undergrad at Mount St. Mary's university where I majored in Theology and used art to help express some heady spiritual concepts and decided to complete the minor in art. From there, I saved up money to attend and complete MICA's Post Bacc program. It was the best year of my life to date!

S: How did your interest in painting murals start? 

A: There was a Public Art course that I participated in at the Mount and we were tasked to design a mural that would depict the University and be installed in the tunnel that connected one side of campus to the other. I learned a lot about the process and enjoyed being committed to working with my classmates. I have since been attracted to commissions especially if they have a community arts/awareness aspect to them. It gives me the opportunity to engage in my community and to learn about people.

S: Much of the work that I've seen from you seems sculptural or 'performative' in did this way of working develop? 

A: While I was waiting to attend MICA, I lived in a house in Silver Spring MD with a garage, and my housemates let me use it as a studio. It was so great! This is where my paintings began to get larger and push the third dimension. I was applying multimedia to pieces on wood (usually cut as big as possible-but still transportable-by Home Depot employees). I became aware of my interest to work 3D and made sure to capitalize on the metal welding and fabrication courses and resources that MICA offered. My dabbling in performance is even newer. The performance work I have done is natural and personal, but also invites a more universal human understanding. I am only tickling the surface of my performance interest.


Anne performing her piece, No Skein of Thread to Follow at the Gutsy reception

S: Do you have a particular female artist or writer that you feel has influenced you or your practice (working in any medium, historical or contemporary)? 

A: Anne Hamilton is one beyond brilliant installation artist! I really enjoy studying her work. I was able to attend her "Meet the Artist" talk at the Hirshorn in DC last summer and see her piece the Palimpsest in person. Hearing her talk about her work was awe inspiring!  She talked a length about The Event of a Thread piece that had just wrapped at the Park Ave. Armory and I am always struck at the levels of meaning that are woven into her pieces as well as all the person power necessary to pull them off! I can remember sinking in my seat as she talked about that piece and how she consulted with this and that engineer, hired actors, and counted on viewers to activate the piece/give life to it etc. While I don't quite have the capital necessary for some of my larger-than-life dream projects, what I have learned from Anne and appreciate very much about her pieces, are the many layers of meaning incorporated into her work, and I am strive to embed many layers into my work in an effort to engage a wide audience.

S: This seems like a simple question, but it's one of my favorite little peeks into other artists' practices...What is the color that you favor (use) most in creating your art work? What about the material you use most? 

A: I sometimes feel as though I need to offer an explanation as to why I use so much black in my work. "I'm really not that dark!" In contrast to the black in my latest projects, are a lot of colors. In my No Skein of Thread to Follow site specific installation/performance at the Gallery CA, the oppressive black fabric is contrast to the rainbow chalk used to mark a path. In my maps project, There Be Monsters, road maps are masked out using black ballpoint pen in areas where I have never been. The roads I have traveled are left exposed and the various original map pigments shine throughout the black. Both of these projects compliment each other nicely and encourage ideas for future projects.

S: What is the single most important tool you use as an artist?  

A: The single most important tool I use is sleep. During my waking hours I am carefully attentive to the world and my experience of it. At night I process my ideas. I recently heard the composer John Luther Adams discuss what his approach would be from receiving an assignment to completing an ensemble score. His process includes thinking about it so much and seeing it in his dreams, essentially, until he can do nothing else but write down the notes. That's how it is for me when I get an idea. I think just marinating in the thoughts and ideas helps develop the image and the layers of meaning I hope to convey.

S: How do you tend to decompress, or what allows you a stress-free or "quiet space"?  

A: I really enjoy doing yoga on days when my body tells me to. I usually feel stress in my gut most intensely and exercising with yoga stretches helps. Lately, the compositions of Olafur Arnalds are a welcome accompaniment with the yoga. This sometimes occurs at Druid Hill Park with my yoga mat and iPad ap,, or in my apartment with my roommate's awesome sound system. Both options are free which also helps to reduce stress!

S: Best advice from Mom (yours or someone elses)? 

A: My Mom is hospitable, caring, and very giving of her time, and has influenced my life more than I can recall. I always noticed the little things she did for our family, friends, and community. The best advice she passed to me, by the actions I took notice of, is that every little bit helps. That's something I try to remember every day. 

S: Thanks again for the wonderful mural, Anne! How can we find out more about you and your work?  
A: You're welcome! It was my pleasure. Thank you, Shana for organizing it and helping out with all you did. My website is update with my latest work at

 Ribbon-cutting with Hannah Brancato of The Monument Quilt; Artist, Anne Boisvert; TFAP-B Regional Coordinator, Shana Goetsch and TFAP-B Special Events Committee member, Kelly Johnson