Conversations and Meditations by Ann Ekstrom
I have been making still life paintings of small elderly buttons and pins and bits of ephemera for a long time. My concerns as a painter continue to be quite formal - color, light, design, surface, materials. I think of my multi-object compositions as conversations and my single-subject, shaped canvases as meditations. As I worked on the paintings for this exhibition, I meditated on a 25 year old conversation with my mother's younger sister. "You know where you get this, don't you?" my Aunt Nancy Lea Vance said to me when she saw my first paintings using art deco buttons and plastic items. I thought that I did, that they came out of my interests in 20th century design, dime store kitsch, trompe l'oeil painting and my large collection of bakelite, postcards and random bits of the past. "No", she said "When you were a baby, my mother would pour her basket of old buttons out on the floor for you to play with. This looks exactly like that." I was stunned; there was no doubt that I had laboriously replicated that scene in the painting right in front of us.
When I thought about it, this Freudian (and amusing) revelation about my grandmother and my brain made perfect sense. Ever since I discovered attics and flea markets, I have surrounded myself with old things that were just like hers. So, when I moved from my academic training as a figurative artist to a more personal expression, I found ways to respond to my grandmothers' and great aunts' homes and gardens. Certainly, I am more conscious now of the source of my imagery. In my current work, I have chosen to go back to the simple theme of the button basket as a trove of memory. - Ann EkstromAnn Ekstrom was born in Fort Worth in 1953. Devotion to art was instilled at an early age by her talented mother, Beth Lea Clardy. Ekstrom earned a B.FA. degree from Texas Christian University. She received additional art training at the University of Texas at Austin and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Ekstrom's passion for art is seen in a deep body of work that ranges from printmaking to watercolor painting to highly detailed, large-scale oils. Her 72-foot painting, Hints of a Life, is permanently installed at Tarrant County College, Southeast Campus. Paintings by her are included in corporate and private collections across North Texas. Ekstrom is a popular Fort Worth lecturer and has been featured in the Kimbell Art Museum's The Artist's Eye. In addition to studio work, Ekstrom has served as a painting instructor for Texas Christian University's Extended Education program and teaches in her studio near the TCU campus. She has been chosen by the office of Fort Worth Public Art to design a project at North Z. Boaz Park for the Bomber Heights neighborhood. Ekstrom is a long-time promoter of Art in the Metroplex, and a former steering committee member of EASL (Emergency Artists' Support League). She has served on the Exhibition Advisory Panel of the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. She is represented by Artspace 111 in Fort Worth. She recently had a show at the Grace Museum in Abilene and has an upcoming show at the Martin Museum of Art on the Baylor campus in Waco.