My recent work is focused on fantasies of escape brought on by my experience with postpartum anxiety. I look for secret doors out of this pandemic and the isolation and fear that it brings with it. I look for a lever I can pull to get me out of the occasional but deep fear that comes with caring for a baby, an escape hatch leading away from the panic that comes with living in this newly reformed body, or a cloak of protection that will allow me to escape under the cover of night. I think of Arundhati Roy: the pandemic is a portal. The transformation into motherhood is a portal, too. Stepping through both at the same time takes a tremendous amount of energy and courage. I don’t always have both. This is when I return to the comforts of drawing.
I use graphite because it is humble, recognizable, and easily accessible for me and the audience. Drawing is a familiar medium that most everyone has some experience with. I prefer it because it’s practical, unassuming, and allows me to easily work in fine detail. Because it is such a familiar medium, it creates a sense of approachability in my work. This, coupled with the equally familiar symbology of fairy tales, is designed to hold the viewer’s gaze for as long as possible to let the nonlinear narrative unfold.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Annika Earley makes intimate graphite drawings about transformation, in-between states, and the experience of being a woman. She uses German folktales as reference points in her work and addresses contemporary feminist issues and bodily autonomy. In addition to her drawing practice, Earley also makes prints and creates site-specific audio installations.
Earley holds an MFA from Maine College of Art and an M.Phil from College of the Atlantic. She has been a resident at the Ellis-Beauregard Foundation in Rockland, ME, Hewnoaks Artist Colony in Lovell, ME, Monson Arts in Monson, ME, and was accepted as a resident at the Vermont Studio Center in 2020. Her work has been most recently exhibited in a solo exhibition at Nightshade Contemporary in Littleton, New Hampshire.
She has taught printmaking, painting, and foundations courses at Maine College of Art and Design and is the former Co-Director of Able Baker Contemporary in Portland, Maine. In addition to her studio practice, she is also the Managing Director of SPEEDWELL projects, an artist-run gallery in Portland, Maine.
© Annika Earley