The room is silent and somber, as chilling as the images on the walls. What at first seem to be sketches transform into moving figures.
Anna Wagner, an Art History professor at Arizona Western College, was the featured artist for March in the Art Gallery. She typically draws from life, but for this series she drew from her memories of the Smithsonian and Metropolitan museums.
The name of the exhibit was Family of Cripples, inspired by the quote by American naturalist and painter James Audubon, "My pencil gave birth to a family of cripples. These difficulties and disappointments irritated me but never for a moment destroyed the desire of obtaining perfect representatives of nature. The worse my drawings were, the more beautiful did I see the originals."
Wagner's sketches are not the usual still lifes; they almost become moving silhouettes due to the disheveled and grimy strokes of graphite on paper. It took her about two months to compile this collection.
Wagner's aesthetic relies on black and white, natural history, bones and life. Besides drawing, she also practices printmaking and sculpture.
Wagner earned her BA in Art History from the college of William and Mary and her MFA in printmaking from Ohio University. She has exhibited nationally and internationally and has had exhibited her work for about 30 times. She also has done lectures on topics such as what careers there are in art. One such lecture was titled "There's No Success Like Failure," by the Mid-America College Art Association.
Wagner has been the full-time Art History professor at the AWC San Luis Learning Center.
"Of course, you get home after teaching and you're tired," Wagner said about the difficulty of balancing teaching and being an artist. "I'm just thinking of all the papers I have to grade, but I dedicate all the free time I can to art."
After almost two years of teaching, the present semester will be her last at the San Luis Center. Her plans are fly to Paris as soon as the semester is finished and then travel through Europe from there. She will also be doing an artist residency in Iceland and applying for teaching jobs in the fall, although she hopes she can continue teaching Art History online for AWC.
Photo courtesy of AWC Fine Arts Department