We had the good fortune of connecting with Leann Carlson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leann, 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?
I remember my first year of art school, I was having a really difficult time adjusting to the workload and feeling confident in what I was doing. I thought to myself, “if I could pick any other major, what would it be?” Nothing else came to mind. Pursuing art was something that I have been wanting to do for many years, and I couldn’t imagine myself being anything else. So, I decided to keep going. Even though that was six years ago, I still ask myself the same question when I begin to doubt my abilities. I just recently started doing art full time, and no matter how hard it gets I know I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. If I have made it through every obstacle I faced in the past, then I can do whatever I put my mind to in the present day.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Creating visual imagery of what I’m going through aids me in expressing the feelings I cannot put into words. I have a deep emotional connection to my work, as it is reflective of my dreams, childhood memories, and emotional wellbeing. The past couple of years have been particularly transformative for me. There have been many ups and downs: the sudden passing of my mother, my scholarship to study abroad in Italy, friends that have come and gone, and now of course a global pandemic that swung my career in a new direction. As a printmaker, the process of creation acts as a metaphor for my growth as a person. Each layer of the print represents a stage of my life that brings me closer to my long-term goals. Experimenting and learning from my mistakes, as well as my relationship with art has been and continues to be a long winding journey that I feel grateful to experience.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Living in Vineland, New Jersey, I spend most of my days outside creating art and hanging out. There are numerous small businesses I love to eat at, like Milly’s Restaurant and Kura. Vineland is a really diverse town and the people here have a lot of love for our community. Although Vineland itself is usually pretty quiet, we are in a really convenient location where cool day trips are always an option. Not far from where I live is Grounds for Sculpture, which is a huge sculpture park in Hamilton, NJ. I frequently visit the city of Philadelphia, where my friends and I love visiting museums such as the Barne’s Foundation, the Philadelphia Art Museum, and small contemporary galleries like the Vox Populi. I love getting ramen when I go into the city as well! I’m a big fan of thrifting and love walking and down South Street checking out the cute secondhand stores and bars. My hometown isn’t far from the coastal towns either. Before the pandemic started I used to visit the beach at least once a week during the summer months. It would be fun to show my friend my favorite amusement rides and boardwalk snacks. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to dedicate this shoutout to one of my first art instructors, Mrs. Anderson. I started taking lessons under Mrs. Anderson when I was in 7th grade and she played a significant role in my beginning years as an artist. She taught me how to paint and helped me realize that art what something I wanted to make into a career.