art 3mph: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Audree Anid: I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, lived in Rome for a year and finally my family settled in the Bronx, New York when I was four years old. My parents are both from Lebanon and left the country in the midst of the Civil War to pursue educational opportunities. They decided to stay in New York and start a life here. Despite having “assimilated”, I have strong ties to Lebanon, it informs a lot of my artistic practice. I try and piece together fragments of my familial history and I often consider what it means to be Lebanese-American; to vacillate between two disparate identities. I travel constantly, mainly because my extended family resettled in various countries around the world during the war.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have grown up in New York City, it’s undeniably my favorite city and I thrive on its energy. One could argue that Beirut has some parallel elements of the frenzy of New York, the weaving of traffic, the flow of people partaking in night-life, but it seems to be denser, a sort of amalgam of historic buildings gutted from bombs and new towering complexes, glass and metal shrouded in a yellow heat. I spend a significant amount of time in Beirut every year, and each time I go I immerse myself in the city (armed with my camera).
art 3mph: How did your mixed-media approach to art-making develop?
Audree Anid: When I started my undergraduate studies at Wesleyan University, I was determined to study studio art and did so under the guidance of the painter Tula Telfair. As part of the studio art major, I opted to take a photography course. My professor, the photographer Sasha Rudensky, saw potential in my work and encouraged me to pursue the medium. I then spent time as a photography lab assistant, unpacking the delicacies of printing film photography, editing digital images, and developing an appreciation for the physicality of printed images. I started thinking about how photography was heavily intertwined with my painting practice. For example, my thesis was a series of paintings each based off of digital images that I had manipulated and transfigured using digital tools. My paintings were essentially translations of photographed spaces.
A year after graduating, I moved to Williamsburg and worked in a shared studio space on Ainslie Street (it’s now a condominium). I started experimenting with archival family photographs and paint. I found these photographs while at my parent’s house: packs of photos that had been sitting in this box collecting dust for years. At my studio later on, I began cutting into the photographs with an Exacto knife and collaging the photographs. I had a palette of mixed oil paint already laid out in front of me because I had been working on a few paintings on canvas at the time. I was struck with the idea of playing with the two mediums, testing the physicality of the oil paint with these slick small photographs.
I began to create a body of work dedicated to the exploration of the blending of paint, texture, and physical markings on the surfaces of photographs. I also employed some printmaking techniques in the sense that I literally pressed some of the photos onto painted paper then peeled them back, leaving traces and marks through these impressions. My newer mixed-media works are all photographs that I took myself with a color film camera and later had developed and printed. I still use the techniques of imprinting paint on photo that I developed when first experimenting in my studio 5 years ago.
While in school, I wanted to diversify my understanding of all three media (painting, photography and printmaking) and I feel that my practice has really benefited from it. During grad school, I studied printmaking for a year at Teachers College, Columbia University under the guise of Mahbobe Ghods, and during that time I kept returning to images of Beirut and incorporating them into the silkscreens and photolithographs. So there’s always been a dialogue between still photographic images and the work I produce.
Ultimately, I like to vacillate between mediums and I also like to work on multiple projects simultaneously. For example, I have a series of works on paper that combine both painting and printmaking up in my studio. I also am working on a series of oil on canvas paintings that are based on images I’ve culled from online digital research.
art 3mph: How do you interact with your work? How do you decide which materials, colors, patterns etc to use to disrupt your photos?
It really varies image per image, I’m usually responding to something specific in each photograph. Sometimes I try and emphasize a color that already exists in an image, a slight pink hue in a building or a hazy blue in a seascape. There are also times when I like to insert colors and textures that seem to be in conflict or are altogether alien to the imagery. Color and form become enmeshed in each other, the paint and the photograph are inseparable, the space is an altogether new one. There’s something visceral about disrupting photographs with the physicality of paint, sometimes it’s an erasure of sorts (a means to cover portions of the image beneath) and other times I can’t really imagine the photograph without the paint (it becomes symbiotic).
art 3mph: What do you like about living and working in Bushwick?
Living in East Williamsburg/Bushwick has been great for my practice. I happen to live about a 5 minute walk from my studio which enables me to work frequently in my studio and sometimes at odd hours. I enjoy my neighborhood because it’s calm; there’s less of the bustle of Manhattan and more of a contemplative community vibe here.
A typical day for me usually involves a stop at Bread Brothers on Grand St, to get a massive iced coffee and a bagel then I head to my studio, put on a playlist and start working. My studio is on Grand Street, in a massive building that takes up an entire block, I think it was once a factory. My studio building is always buzzing with energy, I think it’s simply the nature of working adjacent to other artists. My studio, while compact, is just enough space for me. I don’t have any natural light so my sense of time is warped, it can be somewhat disorienting but also helps me remain super focused.
In the later afternoon, I usually go for a run outside at Cooper Park or McCarren Park or if I’m feeling energetic, the Williamsburg Bridge. I wind down in my apartment, maybe read a book or watch a show, but if I’m honest, I’m probably reading emails or on Instagram.
Audrée Anid is a Lebanese/American mixed-media artist whose work spans photography, painting, and printmaking. Audrée was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and grew up in the Bronx, New York. She holds a B.A. in Studio Art from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and an M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. She has exhibited at Photoville NYC at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Humble Arts Foundation, The Beirut Contemporary Global Art Fair, The National Association of Women Artists, Brooklyn Fire Proof East Gallery, and Space Womb Gallery, among others. Recent exhibitions include Arts Suzhou, in Suzhou, China and Equity Gallery in New York. She is based in Brooklyn, New York, and Beirut, Lebanon.