Artist of the Month: Artist Anna Tomczak

Josh Garrick's picture

Anna Tomczak is an Artist’s Artist.  She paints, photographs, experiments with new mediums, teaches, studies, and is constantly exploring.  A retrospective of her work exhibited a few years ago at the Museum of Florida Art in Deland, Florida was curated by Barbara Hitchcock, Director of Cultural Affairs of the Polaroid Collections. 

 

Speaking of Ms. Tomczak’s still life assemblages, Ms. Hitchcock said, “Anna Tomczak’s photographs are beautiful, yet they are heavily layered with ideas, histories, remembrances and emotion. She delves into hidden places in her psyche to resurrect and interpret what is captured there, using it to re-energize souvenirs of past lives.  Perhaps a blood-red calla lily draws our attention to a photograph. Stop. Look twice. This could be the beginning of a journey into another time and another place. The clues are there for you to see and ponder.”  Inevitably, Ms. Hitchcock also speaks about Anna Tomczak’s “psychic energy and creative spirit.” 

 

Anna Tomczak - Zazelle

Zazelle

 

 

While ALL real Artists have a ‘spiritual energy,’ that energy runs especially deep in Anna Tomczak. With total humility and a natural good humor that comes from a joy in living, Ms. Tomczak shares her wisdom in even the most casual conversation.  She is the kind of Artist for whom the simple act of living is an integral part of her innate creativity.

 

Anna's large format dye-infusion transfer photographs are widely exhibited and may be viewed in collections including: The Florida Gulf Coast Museum of Art, The Norton Museum of Art, The Polk Museum of Art, City of Orlando Public Art Collection, Deland Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Harn Museum of Art, UNCC Charlotte - The Cone foundation, Sony Latin-America, McGraw-Hill, NYC and the Polaroid Corporate Art Collection of Waltham, Massachusetts.

 

Anna Tomczak - Papillon

Papillon

 

 

Anna Tomczak recently gave these responses …

 

1.  How did you get started?  Who were your first MAJOR influences?

I began to photograph and draw as a child. My father bought me a Brownie Starflash for my 8th Christmas. I went to Catholic School for 12 years, and instead of nightmare stories about nuns and cracking rulers, I really had some wonderful art teachers and language teachers also. They were supportive and gave good criticism also. Technically I learned the most in Undergraduate school at Penn State and then had an expansive experience in graduate school, studying with Evon Streetman, Jerry Uelsmann and Wally Wilson. They were among my first major influences. Intrinsic in the work that I have done with the Polaroid 20 x 24, William Wegman was my mentor. That experience was given to me through a working 3-week residency with him at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in 1993. That was where I made my first polaroid transfers. Other influences have been photographers Robert Mapplethorpe, Walker Evans and Joyce Tenneson, as well as contemporaries, Suzanne Camp Crosby and the late Merry Moor Winnett.

 

Anna Tomczak - in her studio

Anna Tomczak - in her studio

 

blueprint line in Anna Tomczak's studio

blueprint line in Anna Tomczak's studio

 

 

2. Please use your own words to describe your art...

I think of my work as inviting to the viewer, even though it often contains disparate elements. My still life compositions are sometimes tributes to past lives, memorabilia and other artifacts that tell a story and commemorate those lives. My work has been thought of as having a healing quality, and is represented in several medical collections, such as the Mayo Clinic and the Moffit Cancer Center, Pfizer and Sonofi-Winthrop. Individuals who own my work usually place them in quiet, private and sometimes intimate spaces.

 

Anna Tomczak - Devil's Backbone II

Devil's Backbone II

 

Anna Tomczak - Equinox

Equinox

 

 

3. When/What happened to first make you think of yourself as an artist?

That would be when I was drawing with crayons as a child - I knew it!

 

Anna Tomczak - Tango

Tango

 

 

4. What inspires you NOW?

Searching for new and exciting objects, friends to photograph, learning to paint again, working with wax and photos on wood, funky old cameras and processes, other artists, traveling to and working in Italy, my studio and the light, the outdoors, moths and the Starn Twins.

 

Anna Tomczak - MothChild

MothChild

 

 

5. Where is your favorite place to create art?  Is there something special about living in Florida that inspires you?

My studio is my favorite place to work along with being in the NYC 20 x 24 studio and using the camera to make large transfers on water color paper. Florida provides a sense of tropical colors and lends a landscape quality to some of my assemblages. One of my favorite things to do at home is work in my garden, or just look at the light on the botanicals and dream about what other exotic country they came from.

 

Anna Tomczak - Fiddleheads Ice

Anna Tomczak - Fiddleheads Ice

 

 

6. Describe the “perfect” YOU painting/photo/work.  Have you achieved it yet?

About 25 years ago I made a photo on our porch in the heat of the summer titled "Wicker, Straw and Silk" I think that image started a new way of looking for me, and its impression still emerges in my work. I think every artist is always looking toward making the perfect image, and maybe it is inherent in each piece if only a small part. Sometimes we don't recognize it, but others do.

 

Anna Tomczak - Wicker, Straw and Silk

Wicker, Straw and Silk

 

Anna Tomczak - Moth Circle II

Moth Circle II

 

 

7. Painting takes a lot of creative energy.  How do you “re-charge” your batteries?

By experimenting with other mediums, searching for more visual ideas through books and the great outdoors - and flea markets.

 

Anna Tomczak - Prague Ice Study

Prague Ice Study

 

 

8. What’s your fondest hope for the future of your career?

To be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, one of the greatest awards - which would allow me to continue my work, and pursue special projects, travel and make photographs, and paint.

 

Anna Tomczak - Strip 4

Strip 4

 

 

9. How can readers find and purchase your art?

From my studio in Lake Helen, Central Florida and at the Galleries – Arts on Douglas in New Smyrna Beach, SouthLight Gallery in Jacksonville, Wynne Bone Gallery, in Annapolis, MD, and at SoHo Myriad Gallery in Atlanta.  I welcome anyone to visit www.annatomczak.com

 

Ms. Tomczak’s book – SANCTUARY – printed in Turin, Italy, is now available in a full-color, 76-page book.  To purchase, call 386-228-3404 or visit annat[at]annatomczak.com

 

Anna Tomczak - Sanctuary

 

 

 

 

Josh Garrick is the Florida Arts Editor for Wandering Educators.

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Anna Tomczak