Q&A with Anne Marie Nequette

A Conversation Between Anne Marie Nequette and Lynda Harwood-Swenson on Nequette’s current show –Transitions

Anne Marie Nequette, Guangzhou, China 18.7 million 2020

LHS: In your artist statement for your current show Transitions you reference 

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/ng-interactive/2017/nov/03/three-degree-world-cities-drowned-global-warming Can you describe how your work is responding to this information? 

AMN: This article from the Guardian really took me aback because it’s interactive maps showed the projected devastation.  There’s nothing like seeing Miami or Shanghai underwater to drive home to scope of the problem that sea level rise means mass migration. 

At that moment I decided to build the list of cities most at risk for sea level rise, and to make collage works honoring the people who currently inhabit them. 

LHS: Can you describe your process as you approach each piece? 

AMN: If I had been to the city, i.e., Guayaquil, NYC, Bangkok and Miami, I had plenty of information about the industries, architecture and landscape to work with. For those I had not visited, I gathered information on Google—maps and street views—to create a color palette based on those unique places.  

The size of the works is also loosely related to the population size, for example Shanghai is 4’x 4’ whereas Miami is 2’x3’.  For material, I recycled all of my old artwork on paper and then supplemented by drawing and painting on Japanese rice paper affixed to canvas on stretchers.

LHS: I notice that the layered collage elements on your work seem to reference architecture through their vertical and geometric arrangement on the canvas, is that a reference to your architectural background, as well as to the cities your referencing in the titles?

AMN: Yes, exactly.  I was interested in architecture as a child. My father taught woodworking and architectural drafting to high school students, and built a covered patio with sky openings for plants, as well as most of the furniture in our living room. 

Working in the field of architecture, and teaching architectural history, theory and design creates endless opportunities with others, to think about spatial and formal relationships.  

I have also loved great cities all my life, and traveled to many.  I am so impressed by how each city is unique. Those qualities can be found especially if you go outside the tourist areas.

 LHS: Overall this work is also about loss, can you share how you are coping this year? 

AMN: It is my daily practice to express gratitude, accept failure, and keep working on the transition to renewables. Humans are the problem, and potentially the solution.  Many of us are doing all we can, others do not see the problem or do not think there is anything they can or should do. There is so much more loss every day now, that the practice is most important to work on what can be done.  

 LHS: Can you speak a little about your influences as an artist? 

AMN: I was so lucky to grow up in a place and time— in LA in from the 1960’s— with a thriving art community, and to see the diversity of practice from Bette Saayr to Ed Rucha and James Turrell, and everything in between, with plenty of social commentary, the Gorilla Girls, great museums, old masters, they were all inspiring. I am completely and omnivore when it comes to art.

LHS: Since this is your last show at Shift Gallery can you share with us your plans for the future?

AMN: I am volunteering with the Washington Environmental Council and several other groups—Vote Forward, 350 Tacoma, etc. I am looking for opportunities to support the change that needs to happen. I’ve decided not to fly anymore, and have minimized my own carbon footprint as much as possible. 

LHS: Is there something you recommend we do as individuals to help move this important information forward?

AMN: Engage in the process of enacting or supporting legislation both locally and nationally to make the changes needed to save the planet.  Do everything you can to cut your carbon footprint.  Be generous toward immigrants.