Annie K. Blake is a painter and thinker with an intriguing series called Cropped. She explains, “You can’t have it all. And everything is beautiful. It is enough. I crop paintings to remind myself of this.” She grew up in Kansas, Virginia, Minnesota, England, and Brazil and now lives in Utah.
You once wrote that your work, “Deals with the layers that build lives and with human connectedness.” My thoughts about layers started when I was pretty young–middle school, maybe? I was looking at a stack of pennies and thought about how no one would say the top penny was the best penny. The stack was valuable because of all the parts leading up to and supporting the top penny. I think a lot about life as a pile of our experiences. We can’t ignore where we come from and what we’ve been through without the whole structure crumbling. Plus, every once in a while we need to just look back and how far we’ve come. So I paint life stories as cross sections or sort of layers-of-the-earth images–stripes of texture and color. And I paint a lot of houses (as people) and neighborhoods to work through the idea of our shared experiences as people living on this planet but also our messy, unique inner lives that are often hard to share with each other. Our communities depend on willingness to be vulnerable.
Talk a little about your series Cropped. Really that series was the visual representation of how I was feeling during the early days of my career. It was a reminder to me that I couldn’t have it all, but it was enough. The whole picture isn’t always our favorite, but we can find beautiful parts to focus on. The more paintings I cropped, the more metaphors I found, and I often sobbed as I painted. The challenge of what to cover up and what to leave showing was sometimes (maybe hilariously) emotional for me, and hunting for art at thrift stores to crop made it feel like a sort of collaborative art project between me and the original artist or the person who had bought the print. I sold a few of the pieces (and one I even donated back to the thrift store–the idea of someone finding one and being confused made me smile), but that series was mostly important for me and things I was processing.