The Daily Iowan

Exploring art as a paradigm shift

 Eleanna Anagnos, artist and UI Grant Wood Fellowship recipient, talks paradigm shifts, unexplainable connections, and diversity in the arts.

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Exploring art as a paradigm shift

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Austin Yerington, Arts Reporter

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Art is something that can strike a viewer in countless ways. This sensation is something that all artist aspire to do, but few aspire to create art that can stick with the viewer well past the time they spend with the piece.

Artist and UI Grant Wood Fellow Eleanna Anagnos is based out of New York City and has curated many artists for Ortega y Gasset Projects. With training in oils and canvas, Anagnos has now found a connection with the material paper pulp.

“My training and background is in oils and canvas, and mine were very abstract,” Anagnos said. “I then started working with hydrocal, because I was interested in three dimensionalities. I was thinking about space and what happens in space…I’m working with paper pulp now so I can make bigger work that I can carry. It’s a practical concern, but it also does a lot of the same things hydrocal does”

With her hybrid sculptor paintings, Anagnos is an artist that loves to dive into what humans can perceive and how art can cause an unexplainable response.

This fascination for the unexplainable is something that has entranced Anagnos since she was very young.

“I have a connection with my mother, where she somatize my personal experiences,” Anagnos said. “She physically feels when I am having an internal conflict, emotionally…When I do research for that, there’s no explanation. There’s no proof that is real, but it’s my lived reality.”

This connection with the world and others is what has drawn Anagnos to the art.

“I have had some specific experiences, where I came to realize about what we know or what we think we know is very different things,” Anagnos said. “I’m really interested in us becoming more cognizant of that. To maybe take more ownership of our lives. In terms of not making assumptions about everything. “

These assumptions that Anagnos is referring to is the type that can prohibit people from taking in a piece of art, be it canvas, dance, or a song.

“I believe in the power of art. It’s something you have to give time to. I am interested in a slow read,” Anagnos said. “I am interested in art that doesn’t just spoon feed me an idea…I am interested in you spending time with it. To sit back and contemplate it, take it in, and have it open up over time to you.”

Her art focuses on challenging the way of thinking of those who admire her work- calling this the Paradigm Shift. This non-tangible experience of art is what Anagnos is fascinated by.

“What happens between my body and your body that we don’t’ see?” Anagnos said. “I think there’s a larger thing happening… It’s a motherboard, it operates and we don’t ever think about it, but its running the show.”

This way of truly seeing art is what Anagnos says makes you question “knowing, being, identity, (and) space, like metaphysics.” This may sound a bit “out there” to most, but to Anagnos these experiences are something that are truly beautiful and is what art is all about.

“I am hoping you walk away questioning your belief system,” Anagnos said. “You came to the work with a lot of assumptions with what you thought you were going to see, but as you studied it, it offered you a new way of seeing. I think that is what art does.”

Anagnos has been a co-director at Ortega y Gasset Projects since 2014. Since she joined Ortega y Gasset, she and her fellow members have help given opportunities to marginalized artists.

“What I love about it that it is a very collaborating experience…it’s an opportunity to show people who are underrepresented or marginalized,” Anagnos said. “People who aren’t getting a fair shake but are doing great work. We get to promote them.”
 
Diversity in all fields of profession and art is something that needs to be questioned according to Anagnos.

“We’re acknowledging the structures and the systems that push people down and don’t give them opportunities, its systemic,” Anagnos said. “What is really troubling for me, is that the majority of my students are women…yet, when you go to New York and you go to the galleries everyone is white and male…It’s problematic and we all know it.

Anagnos’ work is being shown at Unity Gallery at Maharishi University in Fairfield, Iowa from March 1st to April 7th. She will also being having a solo debut exhibition at High Noon Gallery in New York City this April.

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