Looptopia: Anna Joelsdottir’s Stick Installation at Macy’s

Anna Joelsdottir, who took part in Looptopia’s celebration at Macy’s Friday night, worked on a stick installation from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. in one of the windows.

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ArtStyle: What is this installation about?

Anna Joelsdottir (AJ): I'm painting sticks (4-sided, ¾-inch wide, various lengths up to 8 feet long) to create an effect of something that is collapsing or coming together to create some kind of movement or action. At the same time, I see each stick as an individual piece — one painting — and when the sticks are grouped together against the nine-foot wide paper as a back drop, that's another piece.

ArtStyle: What mediums are you using?

AJ: I'm using India ink, fluid acrylics, and colored pens.

ArtStyle: What do you mean when you say each stick is a painting?

AJ: It doesn't matter how I turn a stick, it always makes a painting on all sides, and all the sides are interconnected. The shape of the sticks with the strong vertical thrust and the white ground hold the fragmented pieces of many sticks together. The lines and colors build the movement, and between these different elements, tension is built. You know, as in life, you have a slice of life, even if there are different things from different places, somehow it holds together.

ArtStyle: How do you determine how to arrange the sticks?

AJ: When I put together a composition of sticks, then it becomes almost like a dance, an improvisation. It's like when you do a painting. It's like a composition, but you have to go back and forth until it holds together. Obviously there are many ways to make a piece like this, and I could be playing with this all night and get different compositions or results.

ArtStyle: What were you saying about the shadows formed by the composition of the sticks?

AJ: The paper is attached to the wall and then goes out onto the floor, and I've pulled the paper a little bit to create a curve at the bottom. The sticks are leaning vertically against the wall, and the shadows the sticks create become part of the piece. The shadows are important because they are like a continuation of a drawing in the background, indicating that there is always something before or connected to the present. The sticks are both fragile and strong. When you look at them and the installation, you understand or sense that it only takes a small push to collapse the whole thing. To me that is how our fragile existence is today.

ArtStyle: Is the painting you have here (Running Out) like a reference point?

AJ: Yes. The colors are similar, and the drawings are similar. I brought the painting in to show the connection between the 2D and 3D art. The sticks have the same vocabulary as my painting. If you could flatten out the sticks, they would be very much like my painting.

ArtStyle: Why are you doing this installation?

AJ: For me, if I use the same sizes and formats all the time, I get bored because I'm not challenged. So going from canvas to the stick, my perception is forced to re-adjust, and when I do that, I learn something. I feel like every time I switch formats –- from larger to smaller, from canvas to stick, from stick to a book — it creates a conflict in my perception, thus forcing me to re-think or re-adjust. That's when new ideas come to me

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