At first glance, island artist Ann Wood’s work is pretty, but there’s a ‘disturbing underbelly’
Galveston artist Ann Wood wants anyone touring her new exhibition, “Curtain Call,” to be struck by the sheer magnitude of the pieces involved. Everything is quite large. But it’s the contrasts that draw deeper attention.
A painting of rams being ripped apart by wolves, a working fountain made of flexible foam and taxidermy forms, and a giant interactive installation piece called “Nest,” consisting of doll hair, fake flowers and flex foam, are seemingly disparate but related images. And they’re part of Wood’s recently installed exhibition at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas in Beaumont.
Continuing with many of the themes she has used in previous exhibitions, Wood continues to push the envelope of the attraction/rejection motif.
“Directly, I wanted to continue with some of the things I had been doing before — that is making large installations with large embroideries,” Wood said.
“Big,” or “large,” might be good descriptions for almost everything about “Curtain Call.” Featuring eight pieces — a combination of installation and embroidery — each piece plays with the motif of the title of the exhibit.
“I’m inspired by a lot of my titles,” Wood said. “This one is called ‘Curtain Call,’ so there’s a lot of inspiration in drama and art history — particularly the Baroque and Rococo styles. Especially Baroque is so dramatic. A lot of it is by men and has a masculine feel.”
Using these well-known themes, Wood spins her own twists into the mixture via strong contrasts.
“While they initially seem ‘pretty’ and ‘yummy,’ they have a disturbing underbelly,” she said in her artist statement. “There are both hidden and obvious vignettes of danger, death, deception and decay woven throughout.”
Wood uses traditionally feminine materials to portray dramatic and violent images.
“I like to take those types of images and make them a little girly,” she said. “Whether it’s with embroidery or flowers or whatever else.”
Contrasts between masculine and feminine, and violent and peaceful, pervade each of the eight pieces in “Curtain Call.”
“There’s a bed of fake, dead birds made out of pom-poms and fake flowers in plastic,” Wood said. “There’s a 20-foot-long embroidery of horses, which are pretty and attractive, but violent if you look up close.”
Each piece is imposing, adding to the drama of the exhibition.
For Wood, “Curtain Call” is a culmination of all the hard work and effort of the past two years.
“I can’t emphasize how soul-sucking the last two years were,” she said. “Both of my parents passed away in the last nine months. They were both living in California, so there was a lot of flying back and forth.”
And working with such large pieces created complications when it came to actual work time, she said.
“It cut down on the time I could spend in the studio,” she said.
Transporting the pieces to the exhibition in Beaumont presented its own issues.
“I’ve been known to drive a U-Haul, or two,” Wood said.
But a team at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas helped her, she said.
In the end, all the pieces came together for the finished product.
The exhibition began at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas on Sept. 23 and will continue through Nov. 27.
Wood has lived in Galveston for 10 years.
“It’s so relaxing,” she said. “I love the Houston art scene, but I like visiting it on my own terms.”
She grew up in California and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from California State University-Chico and has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Though Wood has participated in several Galveston-area art exhibitions over the past few years, it’s “Curtain Call” that has occupied much of her time, she said.
“Curtain Call” was funded, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Now that the exhibition is officially installed and ready for viewing, Wood can take a needed break.
“Things always pop up,” she said. “There’s a gallery show in the far horizon, but there’s nothing looming.”