ANNA CAMPBELL BLISS:
Labyrinths of the Mind
BODY PARTS/HEADS by Anna Campbell Bliss, 2011; digital print transferred onto aluminum from MRI scans, 14" x 48", "Labyrinths Of The Mind" exhibition, The Leonardo, Salt Lake City, Utah
Throughout her career as an artist, architect, and designer, Anna Campbell Bliss has been an exponent of Modernism, devoting her life to the creation of artwork that explores the fascinating intersections of art, science, mathematics, and technology.
It is Bliss’ curiosity and openness to seeing — to engaging the full power of mind and feeling — that allows her to look beyond the surface of the world and delve into its fundamental principles.
Evolving from an abstract tradition of painting and printing, her work depicts both nature and the man-made landscape — not in a literal, realist sense, but rather by laying bare the mathematical rhythms of shape and structure that underlie our visible world.
RENAISSANCE VISIONS OF HUMAN ANATOMY by Anna Campbell Bliss, 2012, 7' x 12', silkscreen on oil-painted canvas,"Labyrinths Of The Mind" exhibition, The Leonardo, Salt Lake City, Utah
A selection of works from Anna's long career are currently on view in her solo exhibition, "Labyrinths Of The Mind" at The Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah; Oct.5, 2012 - Jan.6, 2013.
Geoff Wichert's exhibition review "Essential Encounters" in 15Bytes, Utah's Arts online e-zine:
Ehren Clark's review in CityWeekly newspaper online:
JB [Julia Buntaine, Feature Member Editor @ASCI]: When did you begin putting art and science together and why?
Anna Campbell Bliss [artist]: My interest in the Art/Science/ Technology connection developed when I was at MIT in the 1950's with Gyorgy Kepes and continues today to provide a broad base for my work. Art History and Math studies at Wellesley College and Architecture at Harvard GSD were equally influential. Working within an abstract painting tradition, screen-printing became important for the exploration of color. Seeking a better way of presenting concepts with a mathematical base the computer helped integrate diverse sources and precise resolution. From practical considerations I began to see the computer's potential for art to convey, as yet, unseen ideas.
JB: What drove you to move from analog to digital in the creation of your pioneering public artwork, WINDOWS [below]?
WINDOWS by Anna Campbell Bliss, 1989-90; computer-based mural, 8' x 30'; alkyd on enameled steel, Data Processing Center, Utah State Capitol
ACB: For my piece, WINDOWS, I was asked to explore the range of the computer and use it as much as possible for the development of the art. It was a unique effort to bring the computer into the mainstream of art. In my early work, drawing and masking were very precisely done by hand which stems from my training in architecture. From practical considerations, I began to see the computer as an important conceptual tool for creating art.
Textures and patterns with a mathematical base were programmed in the "C" language for plotting and transfer photographically to serigraph screens. Images were also processed and painted directly. To capture some of the brilliance of the computer screen, colors were mixed optically in a somewhat impressionistic manner by overlays of printing from the computer generated screens. Specific programs were developed to reinforce the effect of light and sense of tactility of the surface. The latter was necessary to compensate for the "dryness" of extreme perfection of computer drawing and the hard paint finish needed for permanence.
JB: What is the thread that carries through to your more recent work now shown at The Leonardo Museum?
ELEMENTS by Anna Campbell Bliss, 2009; complete work includes 4 units: WATERWALL, FIREWALL, Detailed, each panel 72" x 35"; oil on Rives archival paper; computer-generated screen prints, Series #1 for College of Nursing, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
ACB: An important direction of my work is combining direct painting for tactile qualities with the precision of computer-developed images. I continue to explore the connection between nature and technology and use the computer to develop concepts. The original study for ELEMENTS was developed at a small scale but the digital print was too flat for a larger scale. It lacked the richness of backgrounds painted directly with oil paint.
ELEMENTS by Anna Campbell Bliss, 2009; complete work includes 4 units: WINDWALL, EARTHWALL, Detailed, each panel 72" x 35", oil on Rives paper; computer-generated screen prints, Series #1 for College of Nursing, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
The Truchet algorithm, when developed as a random pattern, recalls my early sailing on Puget Sound. These subtle water movements in quiet moments revealed geometric patterns on the surface of the water; an experience that lasted for only a moment.
JB: As an art-sci practitioner, what are your goals for your current work?
ACB: It is the nature and science transition that continues to be important, extending the influence of my work in color integration with the architectural context and the environment. I would also like to expand the range of my work into three-dimensions, animation, and video.
JB: What are the challenges you currently face in doing your work?
ACB: The state of the economy restricts opportunities. And, while physical challenges have changed my range of activity, they have not limited my ideas and how I visualize implementing them.
Artist's website: http://www.annacampbellbliss.com