We had the good fortune of connecting with Annelise Hewitt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Annelise, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
That’s a funny question. If you are passionate about something, I don’t believe that giving up is a possibility. I’ve been making art from paper and found objects from around the neighborhood for as long as I can remember. Certainly, there have been long periods where I thought I had given up; when I was working full-time in TV/media production at Abso Lutely Productions, I felt like I had given up on pursuing the artistic career that my academic background might have suggested. But after six years of office work (that I actually enjoyed doing, nota bene) something clicked and I started creating again to the point where art is now a full-time job. I think the advice “don’t give up” is wrong–you can give up, sometimes you need to, and when you’re ready you can always start again with a new perspective.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I make collage in a sustainable and cruelty-free manner, with old paper and discarded books and acrylic paint rather than glue. I think what sets me apart from other collage artists is that I try to create new images that are totally transformed from what they once were. I do this, in part, out of respect for the photographers and production crews that go to great lengths to create the images that we use in collage as if we are entitled to them just because we own a pair of scissors. The concept of abstracting an image and turning it into something new is also a tool I use to bring attention to the prejudice present in cognition, too. When we see something or someone, we involuntarily try to categorize that subject with what the brain has already experienced. Think about when you see someone who looks like someone else you have seen; we are constantly comparing our physical experience with our own limited past experiences. So, when someone looks at my art and says, “That looks like a face,” I hope that they have now become more aware of that exact action taking place. As a multi-racial black artist, I have often heard the question “what are you?” regarding my skin color and my art is a response to those questions. Rather than asking me why my skin is a certain color, why not ask why you need that information in the first place.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would go to the Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena for the whole week, spending one day in the undersea desert garden, one day in the jungle, one day in Japan land, one day in the rose garden, one day in China land, one day in the greenhouse, and one day in the herb and Shakespeare garden. Maybe a few minutes in the galleries. We would eat the vegan options at the 1919 cafeteria and drink Huntington blend organic iced tea. Please sponsor me, Huntington Library.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to my mother, the illustrious children’s book author, Kathryn Hewitt, who always had a cornucopia of art supplies for me to use at home and encouraged me to be weird and create imaginative things. I’d also like to give a shoutout to all of my friends working in creative fields who inspire me, like the cartoonist, Lila Ash, the cinematographer, Hannah Getz, and most of all my husband, spoken word artist/social worker, Dick van ’t Hoff.
Photos by Julie Riemersma @julieriemersma