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Marshmallows and My Other Eden - Annie Sandano

"Marshmallows and My Other Eden"
Artist Profile: Annie Sandano
(Limited Edition Printmaker, Fine Artist & Illustrator)
Written by Adele Barlow

"As an artist but also as a human being – you have to expose yourself. Every single country has different approaches and perceptions," says Brazilian-born artist Annie Sandano, who believes that cross-cultural appreciation is integral to development. "Art is a type of communication, so you have to be open to different kinds of conversations, to mush those together and find your own voice."

After growing up between New Zealand and Brazil, Sandano spent a few months in the United States, where she attended Rhode Island School of Design and strengthened her skills in illustration, design and composition. Following this, she spent a semester in Florence, Italy, where she studied illustration, painting, Italian art history and textile design. She then attended Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland, and eventually plans to become an international artist: to reach this goal, she says, an artist must consolidate their identity and find their own method of communicating – and in doing that, develop a strong thread of influence and research.

While being open to different mediums and lines of research, there is something consistent in Sandano's work; and the Brazilian streams of woodcut are a primary source of influence and interest. Yet does she consider herself a Brazilian or Kiwi artist?
"At this stage I wouldn't classify or pigeonhole, or associate any nationality to myself," she replies, emphasizing her desire to focus on international horizons. She sees New Zealand as an ideal spot to start out, with its friendly and agreeable working environment. Here, she finds that there is strong general interest in art trends; that people like to ask questions; to have their finger on the pulse of the global art community.

In some ways she finds the Kiwi market broader than others as there are few systems or formalities in place, which sharpens the self-sufficiency of individual artists: "Like anything else, if you want to make it work, you've just got to be really persistent – you've got to have vision and confidence." The two qualities work symbiotically, she says, you need one to have the other. On that same note, Sandano points on that in art, there are two main aspects to focus on – technique and theory, which also go hand-in-hand: "You can't move forward with one, without the other."

With an interest in the history and visual traditions of Brazil's culture of display, particularly the orgiastic carnival processions of Rio de Janeiro, her previous exhibition Delirious Utopia had a theoretical focus As a progression from her university studies, it explored the appeal of narrative possibilities; referencing Brazilian culture through elements like the traditional woodcut techniques from the 'Folhetim' papers from the Northeast, Christian religion in her altar-like arrangements and the Vodun Art of the slaves brought to Brazil from the Ivory Coast.

Her upcoming exhibition, My Other Eden, is a lot less processed: "I'm really over artwork that's heavily theory-based, and I'm quite appreciative at the moment of technically well-executed work that has technical integrity." This latest show is set to mark a significant point in the general evolution of her printmaking as it is mainly prints, a consolidation of techniques and evolution into broader techniques: "Every time I exhibit, I want to have that mark of definite progression. The specific objective I had in creating this body of work was pushing myself technically, using lots of different mediums and techniques."

My Other Eden displays an integration of different materials, embossing techniques, and gold and silver leafs. The paper is hand-worked and each print is practically treated as an original. Sandano has been researching ink applications and woodcutting techniques: while she usually simply cuts the wood before applying ink, she is now embossing and doing outlines before mixing in gold leaf paper and adding more layers. She insists that every time she jumps into a project like this, she wants to push herself, and keep evolving.

From a young age, Sandano gravitated towards art, although briefly tempted to study Geography at university. Her passion for Fine Arts is obvious, though, as she recalls, "Looking through art history books, you can see that art is a documentation of human nature." She goes on to describe how art chronicles the general psyche of different historical eras and that it's impossible for landmark artworks to come into creation without the influences of everything else around it. She believes that art is an integral part of how people exist, transcending monetary or quantifiable value.

"Art exists all around us, right now down to the design of the computer keyboard or a design on fabric. People need to express themselves," she continues, pointing out that art lives in the way a person dresses and decorates their home, that art is present even in the food they eat. She finds that the only challenge of making art a career is the stereotype that an artist must lead a wacky, bohemian life: "Your self-perception and your perception within a community can be quite a challenge, especially if you start out as an artist at a young age, and you're unsure of your own identity, let alone your perceived value within a community."

She also points out, "No one is going to discover you – you have to be persistent as hell. There's no guarantee, and no artist factory paying you by the hour." So when I ask her why she is drawn to the art industry, she grins.

"I don't know, it's like asking, 'Why do you like marshmallows?' You can't really explain it." Yet she attempts to, through describing how she flicked on the television the other day, to All the King's Men on Sky Movies; long enough to hear Jude Law say, "I don't know why I work for you, but it ain't for love or money." Sean Penn replies, "Boy, you work for me because I'm the way I am and you're the way you are, and that's just an arrangement found in the natural order of things."

It's that natural pull that she reflects on, along with the necessity of maintaining confidence and vision in this industry. "If you don't take yourself seriously as an artist, no one else will. You're the first person that you have to convince."

More information available on
"My Other Eden" opens 6pm February 26th, 2008. Works on show from February 27th, 2008 to March 11th, 2008; at Seed Gallery, 23A Crowhurst Street, Newmarket, Auckland, New Zealand.


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