If you’re just joining in, this year we were inspired to change up our content for the month to focus on women who we find inspiring and can tell us about their journey of “becoming” based on our Book Club book of the month by Michelle Obama. You can read the rest of the interviews here. Stay tuned for many more!
I’m pleased to introduce you to artist Ann Wood of Woodlucker. Ann’s work has been on my radar for a few years now and somehow she continually manages to outdo herself with every realistic paper creation. She’s focused her exquisite work on lifelike flowers and lately paper food and it’s caught the attention of thousands on Instagram. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that we are all waiting with bated breath for her next reveal. As one who started out making paper flowers, I’m aware that each one takes a lot of time and precision. What could be called “craft” is indeed a work of art.
Read the full interview below!
Interview with Ann Wood of Woodlucker
What did you want to be when you were young?
When I was young I wanted to be an artist. I grew up on a farm in Iowa where I was involved in 4H creating all kinds of projects. One of my earliest memories is creating a drawing, and feeling powerful about conceiving a picture of the ideas that lived in my imagination. At a young age, I realized that art gave me something that nothing else had in my life. Art gave me a freedom to express myself that was unique, bold and colorful.
What do you consider yourself? Artist, designer, etc.
How did you get started in your field doing what you do?
I met my husband, Dean Lucker, while I was at art school. We started writing a grant for a public art sculpture and won the opportunity. The sculpture was located in downtown St. Paul and people started calling us and wanting to buy objects included in this installation. We realize that we might have a business. Dean and I started doing some of the large craft shows making editions of our sculptures in 1990’s. One show led to another and we wholesaled nationally for 10 years to galleries and museum shops. Then we spent another 10 years selling artwork at outdoor crafts shows.
What did you study? Did you go to school specifically for what you do?
After high school I attended Hawkeye Institute of Technology and studied commercial photography. I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to attend art school and after I receive my degree in photography, I found that the thing that I enjoy most was styling pictures. Next I went to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and received a BFA with an emphasis on sculpture and printmaking. I also studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts. There I enjoyed creating textiles and weavings. My education consisted of three parts: technical photography, fine art and fine crafts. I think having the ability to be fluid between many disciplines has helped me feel comfortable trying a lot of different creative ventures.
My mom was influential in supporting me to follow my creativity, and encouraged me to follow my dreams of being an artist. When I was in my early teens, she painted my bedroom white and allowed me to paint whatever I wanted on all the walls. She was always setting the stage for me to do something creative. Her confidence gave me empowerment to value my creativity.
Your flower making skills are incredible. Tell us how you got into that?
All along I’ve been a painter and mixed media sculptor with a specialty in taking things that are common in ordinary and turning them into something personal. I started making flowers by creating a simple feather. I had been showing both the art of my husband and myself on Instagram for around six months. I could see that other people were creating paper flowers and I thought I would give it a try. I didn’t watch tutorials or read any books, instead relied on my skills gathered throughout the years of working in the arts. Now I work mainly from live plants, dissecting the plants to understand the shapes then sculpting them in three-dimension.
I currently work in a 100 year old warehouse located in the Arts District of Northeast Minneapolis, Minnesota. It once housed the Northrup King Seed Company and now holds over 200 art studios. My space previously was a welding studio and it was covered with grease. I cleaned and painted every inch which resulted in turning it into a place that feels like my creative home.
What’s a typical day like for you?
My typical day starts around 7:30 in the morning when I do chores at home and cook. I drive over to the studio and usually run some errands in the morning, arriving at the studio around 11:00. I usually work until 8 in the evenings and do this schedule most days.
What’s a piece of advice that you’ve carried with you and who is it from?
I remember the advice from a wonderful teacher, Terry Schupbach, at art school. She said she wanted to make things that her grandmother would also love. She challenged the idea of inclusion before this was common place. I always followed her example of making art that could include everyone. I’m interested in personal stories and utilizing subject matter that are universal.
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in the arts?
You have to really love it, because art demands so much time and energy. Art is wonderful, art is hard, art is magical and art is frustrating. All this being said, I love being an artist. I also believe in embracing my mistakes, this is where the real gold sparkles. Some of my biggest learning moments have been my mistakes.
What’s coming up for you in 2019?
The past year has been filled with creating flowers, food and insects for the botanical wall all created out of paper. These objects are made to life sized scale except the insects are larger. Currently I have 130 objects and I plan to expand the collection to over 200 in the next year. My hope is to exhibit this wall as an entire installation in museums in the future.
Where do you live?
I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and in a modest 1940s house near a large urban park.
The park in my neighborhood has a vintage conservatory and a formal sunken garden that is spectacular. I live in a part of the midwest that gets cold during the winter months, and the conservatory is a welcome spot to visit creating a break from the cold.
What artists/designers/crafters do you look up to? Both historical or present
I’ve always really admired the artist Frieda Kahlo. I used to create figurative paintings in a style inspired by Kahlo, I loved the way she painted the figure. There are many artists on instagram whom I admire here are just a few: The Flora Smith, Pink and Posey, Bear Follows Cat and Table Takes.
What do you do when someone copies your work?
Mostly I look at it as a compliment. I think people genuinely like something that an artist does and it just happens. I have had a case where a company copied my work and then tried to resell it at a gift market. That was problematic and I consulted an attorney.
How was social media influenced your work?
I started on Instagram sharing the art that my husband and I both created four years ago. At that time my father was at the end of his life and after his passing creating art felt hollow. On the last day of his life, he was commenting on how beautiful certain plants were outside. I could not get his words out of my thoughts. He was a farmer and growing things was a big part of our life. Flowers began to feel universal to me. I could see paper florals on Instagram and fearlessly started to give it a try.
Who is your work intended for?
Throughout the years I’ve made artwork for wholesale, retail, collectors and competing for grants and fellowships. Currently I am making the botanicals I’ve been sharing on Instagram are based on following my daily inspiration. I’m using my posts on Instagram as a personal challenge to keep pushing creatively every day.
What’s inspiring you lately?
My current inspiration has been making paper food. I’m always looking at the grocery store and trying to imagine how to make the beautiful produce I see.
Are you where you want to be in your life and anything more/additional you’d like to “become”?
I’m in my late 50’s now, over the years of creating I’ve made many bodies of work. I’ve made paintings out of eggshells. I’ve constructed coats out of felt and sequins that could stop babies from crying in grocery stores. I’ve created with my husband mechanical pictures that delighted people of all ages and so much more. I see the word “becoming” and think of the word “creativity”. It’s my goal to grow and adapt as time passes, using my creativity as a guide.