Ann Porter is a contemporary artist who works in a variety of materials, including painted and fired stained glass, video monitors, altered video stills and cast polychrome sculpture. Her “Twins” series features life-sized cast Babydog sculptures as well as slumped, painted glass. Her “Preaching to the Birds” series, based on the myth of Saint Francis, features both painted and fired stained glass installed with video art. She also developed a series of beatific children holding weapons, “Angels and Guns”. Most recently she has been making charcoal drawings of stuffed toys. Each series explores the complications involved in the communication between human beings, the natural and supernatural world.
Porter divides her time between North Idaho and western South Dakota where she is Associate Professor in the Art Department at Black Hills State University. She began teaching at BHSU in the fall of 2003. She has taught a broad range of classes, from Art History to Sculpture to Drawing to Art and Technology.
Porter earned her BA at Reed College in Portland Oregon in 1975, and her MFA in sculpture at Washington State University in 2002. She has taught at North Idaho College, Washington State University and was a commercial art director and illustrator. She was also a freelance designer in the areas of jewelry, printing, illustration, as well as screen-printing and embroidery. She has had commercial clients including the Central Park Zoo, Yellowstone National Park, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Grand Old Opry, and the Lawrence Welk Show.
Over the years, Porter has had a number of solo exhibits and has also been involved in many juried and invitational shows, both regionally and nationally.
Animal Studies Statement
Lately I have been drawing plush toys in charcoal. I like the charcoal—its history begins when human image-making begins. It speaks of memory even if we don’t reference Paleolithic cave paintings. If we remember only as far back as smudgy black and white family photos, charcoal suggests the passage of time: it has weight, it has value, it has intimacy.
I like the toys as well. They are also the stuff of memory, the half-remembered crib fantasies, the childhood dramas. For many of us, they were the first experience with our fellow creatures—live or not, they were real.
And so I am circling back around to these early animal playthings, but this time with an adult sensibility. Oh sure, there’s the posthumanist theoretical overlay, the academic question of how we respond to our fellow creatures. That’s important and it’s in the work. But what I think I am really doing is making new special friends.