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Ann Zahn. American Artist

Anne Zahn, Artist, Portrait, artline
Ann Zahn
Anne Zahn, Artist, 100 Views of Home #21, artline
Ann Zahn
100 Views of Home #21, 1977
etching and aquatint, 18 x 22"
Anne Zahn, Artist, Assateague Ponies #12, artline
Ann Zahn
Assateague Ponies #12, 1986
viscosity etching, 18 x 24"
Anne Zahn, Artist, Assateague Ponies #11, artline
Ann Zahn
Assateague Ponies #11, 1985
viscosity etching, 18 x 24"
Anne Zahn, Artist, The Garden Journal XVI, The Great Blue Heron's Garden, artline
Ann Zahn
Garden Journal XVI, The Great Blue Heron's Garden, 2011
linoleum cut and collage, 32 x 37"
Anne Zahn, Artist, 100 Views of Home #18, artline
Ann Zahn
100 Views of Home #18, 1977
aquatint etching, 18 x 24"

Artist Statement

For me, printmaking in all its facets has taught me to engage the image and fight for its improvement and even its existence. In most printmaking techniques there are ways often lengthy and tedious, to change the image.

- Ann Zahn


Essays/Monograph

Ann Zahn and the Sources of Self

If you are familiar with Ann Zahn, you know she has organized most of her artwork under two rubrics: 100 Views of Home, which contains her works from 1975 to 1985, and Garden Journal, which contains her works from 1988 to the present. At first thought, one might not fully appreciate what is so useful about Zahn's organizing her work in this way: one might simply think it's an easy, convenient system for cataloguing a lifetime of work—and miss out on the larger implications for appreciating Zahn's works.

We all know what home is. Or do we? Usually, when we refer to home, we think of home as the place where we live. Or perhaps we think of home as the place where we were born, or grew up, or spent a significant portion of our lives. The point is, when we take the word home literally, it means something unique and personal to us. However, what if we were to understand home symbolically, as Zahn suggests we should. In her artist statement, Zahn refers to her work as developing a kind of "personal myth." The concept of the personal myth is an old one, predating even psychoanalysis, which, in some contemporary forms, understands personal myth-making as a way of creating a coherent personal identity out of all the source materials we have at our disposal. In its simplest form, the personal myth is a kind of story. It is the story of ourselves, who we are and how we came to be.



Country Roads, by Ann Zahn
Ann Zahn
Country Roads, 1973
triptych, etching, 38 x 25"
100 Views of Home #21, by Ann Zahn
Ann Zahn
100 Views of Home #21, 1977
etching and aquatint, 18 x 22"

In the context of personal myth, Zahn's 100 Views of Home can be understood literally, as the place where she lives. She knows it, is familiar with it, and studies it from many (100) different points of view, each of which contributes to a fuller understanding of her home. Understood symbolically, Zahn's home could stand both for herself, so that her work is not so much an exploration of a place as it is a study of herself, and for the artist's story-making, so that her work is an exploration of the narratives by which she is composed. With these ideas in mind, we can interpret Zahn's work both literally and figuratively and understand that in her 100 Views of Home, she is making existential inquiry of one sort or another. She wants to know what all of us want to know: who are we? Where are we? What are our origins? Zahn's answers to these questions are variable. In works such as Country Roads, 1973, and 100 Views of Home #21, 1977, Zahn concerns herself with both spatial and temporal matters, to capture the fluid nature of life even when we are fixed in one place. Days change, seasons change, we change, our homes change. How all of these subjects both change and enact change upon one another is what seems to interest Zahn, and perhaps is what explains her use of different techniques, for each lends its own possibility for both inquiry and storytelling.

In Garden Journal, Zahn appears to make explicit what was implicit in her first works; that is, her concern with both spatial and temporal matters. The garden is a place where things grow; a journal fixes in place what has occurred over a period of time. In the context of personal mythmaking, Garden Journal can be understood as Zahn's mature self looking upon her life as it is now, influenced by all that has gone before her, the people and places, the "seasonal" change. Here, she can explore the interactive nature of change and how one reaps what one has both sown and not sown. In Garden Journal IIIA, 1991, Zahn catalogues many images, as if in a scrapbook, where order and relationships might be explored and understood, while in Garden Journal XVI, The Great Blue Heron's Garden, 2011, she could be exploring herself not only in the act of art-making, but also in the act of composing herself from a pool of archetypal narrative possibility. Who or what is the heron, and what are the goldfish?


Garden Journal XVI, The Great Blue Heron's Garden, by Ann Zahn
Ann Zahn
Garden Journal XVI, The Great Blue Heron's Garden, 2011
linoleum cut and collage, 32 x 37"
American Indian Garden, Corn, Beans, and Squash, by Ann Zahn
Ann Zahn
American Indian Garden, Corn, Beans, and Squash, 2011
linocut and collage, 35 x 34"

In her most recent works, Zahn's compositional technique suggests her thematic interests.
Take, for example, Garden Journal XVI, American Indian Garden, Corn, Beans, and Squash, 2011, an image in which the cornstalks are repeated and the beans and squash intermingle among one another and the corn. The repetition of the stalks suggests versions of corn, seasons of corn, even, given the title, centuries of corn. The corn rows persist, while the beans and squash wind through the stalks, an interesting exploration of both historical and contemporary time, or socialization and individuality, or genre and personality, or human and natural order. In this and other of Zahn's works, both technique and theme reverberate simultaneously in unabashedly subjective and colorful expressions of call and answer. Who's there? we ask. The answer is never the same twice.

John A Haslem, Jr.


Biography

The importance of realizing how totally immersed we are in the natural world has always been the subject of my work and will continue to be. Working in the visual arts is my way of expressing that.

Most of Ann's activity in printmaking has been in two extensive series of works. The first, filling the decade from 1975 to 1985 is called 100 Views of Home and the second, from 1988 to the present, is gathered under the heading of Garden Journal. In both series a wide rage of techniques and media appear: etching, aquatint, dry-point, lithography, woodcut and linoleum cut together with artist's books and pieces incorporating hand-made paper She works both in color and in black and white and always at the scene, directly on the block, stone or plate. She often "tells a story" in a series of related works, many of which explore her preoccupation wth the theme of time passing expressed both through contrasts of light and darkness (day and night versions of a particular subject) and as a sequence of events.

Since 1977, Zahn has run the Printmakers Workshop in her Bethesda MD studio where many area printmakers have gathered to work together, contributing a rich variety of ideas, experiences and interests. Over the years, these artists have exhibited their work as a group in the Washington area on a number of occasions.

Zahn was one of the originators of the Washington Area Printmakers Original Print Calendar in 1972 and has participated in this project every year since then. She was a founding member of the Washington (DC) Printmakers Gallery and of Creative Partners Gallery in Bethesda MD. She has taught courses in etching, woodcut and design variously at the University of Maryland, College Park, American University and George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.


CV

born 1931 Washington DC

education
1967 American University, Washington DC, MFA
1953 Duke University, Durham, NC, BA
public collections
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Georgetown University, Washington DC
Library of Congress, Washington DC
Montgomery County Government, MD
Museum of Fine Arts, Portland, OR
Museum of Modern Art, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Museum of Modern Art, NYC
National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Rockville, MD
Psychiatric Institute of Montgomery County, Rockville, MD
Smithsonian, Museum of American Art, Washington DC
Smithsonian, Museum of American History, Washington DC

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