Anna LaBenz: Suspended Breath
I had the great pleasure of meeting Anna LaBenz at the PhotoNOLA Portfolio reviews and spending time with her project, Suspended Breath. The project is born of sadness and pain, and as with many artists, from that rawness comes whole new ways of thinking and seeing. Often times, the camera allows for a way back in, a way to connect with loved ones and see life more in focus when things feel out of control. Anna’s painterly approach to photographs uses color and gesture as important characters in her exploration of family and reflect the psychological landscape of her emotions. Her uniquely mounted exhibition at Pascal Hall in Rockport, Maine last year demonstrates her interest in telling stories in new ways, making us consider how we hold memories and how we deal with the rocks on our roads.
Anna is a recent graduate of Maine Media College with a Master’s of Fine Arts degree. She is known for her large scale installations, sound, and unconventional book forms. These dynamic displays arouse emotion and challenge the viewer to let go of daily life and plunge into a vulnerable place of humanity. Anna’s work has been displayed in exhibitions at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockport, Maine (May 2015) and Pascal Hall, Rockport, Maine (May 2016). Anna’s solo exhibition at Pascal Hall in Rockport, Maine featured her work Suspended Breath. Her work was recently featured by Elizabeth Avedon and the first place winner of Tilt Gallery’s Photography Re-Imagined V: Visual Storytelling juried show. She will also be participating in Tilt Gallery’s signature exhibition Who’s in the House in December 2017.
Anna lives in beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona, with her husband and two kids, who often are the subjects of her photographs.
I grew up in the high desert plains of the west where there are big skies that reach so far that, at time it feels like the sky is overwhelming the earth. I now live in a beautiful mountain town where the landscape morphs and changes as quickly as the spring wind. I am inspired by the dramatic landscape that surrounds me, my life experiences, and those who are closest to me. I am a recent graduate of Maine Media College with a Master’s Degree of Fine Art.
My work is an exploration of my own psychological landscape. Because of this, my development as an artist relies as much, if not more, on my growth as an individual. The foundation and reason for my work are the fragmented memories and psychological landscape of my life – I make art to both understand and to communicate those experiences.
My body of work Suspended Breath was made to process a great sadness in my life. I began making the images to help me understand my loss and its companion, grief. As I navigated through my internal landscape I was able to discover beauty in my journey back to living. Making my pictures allowed me to discover what my head had hid from my heart. My images explore that which ties us all together, love, fear, shame, hope, vulnerability, and humility. This poignant work reveals the rawness of our humanity.
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