When studying Anne Lemanski‘s sculptures, the artist’s choice in medium becomes just as intriguing as the subject depicted. Working from her extensive personal collection, the artist uses a variety of materials – from vinyl and book pages to textiles and vintage photos – to create life-size sculptures of animals and objects. While some pieces are more open to interpretation, others not-so-subtly address the social, political and environmental issues we face in modern times.
Creating these sculptures is a labor intensive process that can take weeks or months to complete. The artist first builds a skeletal framework with copper rod, then hand stitches her chosen materials to form the “skin” of her subject. “My goal is to capture the essence of each creature and object I create,” Lemanski says in her artist statement.
Lemanski is perhaps best known for her works inspired by the animal kingdom, such as snakes “tattooed” with butterfly prints and birds fashioned from decorative papers and firecracker labels. Other works include decorated guns embellished with beading and embroidery and cut-outs of vintage paper dolls.
In many instances, the very nature of her sculptures – depicting animals with man made and artificial materials – highlights the complex relationship between nature and modern man. Her sculptures often point to man’s exploitation of animals and the impact of human activity on their habitats. For example, a water bird constructed from shiny black vinyl represents the wildlife affected by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Another sculpture, a bull covered in etchings of needles, references the use of growth hormones in the meat and dairy industries. Some pieces are accompanied by information from news articles to further enlighten the viewer on these issues.
Lemanski is a graduate of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit and is currently based in North Carolina. Her work has been exhibited in numerous galleries in Chicago, Detroit, New York City, and Raleigh, and is part of collections in the Asheville Art Museum and North Carolina Museum of Art.