"Be the Soul"
Wally Workman Gallery
1202 West Sixth Street
Austin, TX 78703
Feb 6 to Feb 27, 2021
When I think of the sentence “Be the Soul of that place,” I acknowledge that every place already has its own soul, but I think of it as entering that place to be of service and to give my fullest. It’s about showing up authentically with both vulnerability and strength, with honesty and humility.
This past year has been trying for everyone. Some suffered pains and hardship I can only fathom, and we cannot neglect the sorrow that has left a mark on all of us. George Floyd’s death brought the awareness of racism deeper into our consciousness, the threat to our democracy was and is a daily constant that is more than fatiguing, the muddling of truth exhausting.
All of that has found its way into my imagery. Not loud and too overt, but it is undeniably there. I think of the women I portray as parts of me and parts of you. They are simultaneously biographical and speaking to the larger spirit of the time. The tattoos are telling a story as a way of marking time and experience. They are part of a ritual to record an experience in a fairly radical way.
I develop the imagery very intuitively. When I finish all the creatures, plants and symbols and a line of a poem seems to fall in my lap that perfectly fits the tattoos I am particularly happy. The poem Beauty and Terror by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke had caught my attention before the pandemic hit and has since then been carried into several paintings. I wanted this show to have both images of serene quiet and a stark bluntness exemplified by the women with shaven, tattooed skulls.
Each of them resonates with me in these times of both peace and violence, quiet and uproar. One thing is for sure, we will never forget this moment and carry it onward to the end of our life. I hope that each painting holds some of this time, in which the world's beauty and terror seem more heightened than ever.
Anne Siems 2021
Be the Soul (40x30”)