My work has always been about trash.
This didn’t start out of inspiration, but from a reaction to sheer poverty. Back in 2003, after moving to LA from a couple of other places, I didn’t have the money to afford real materials for my art. It wasn’t really my intention, but using these found objects and used materials from thrift shops collectively told a story within the work.
I was impressed how people not only wanted to buy the work but also wanted to know the story.
The Story of the Trash
I remember the day I began using trash and other found objects in my work quite vividly. I was downtown, outside a slightly sketchy area in Little Tokyo, and was supposed to be picking up a friend at a loft. After waiting outside for a good 25 minutes, I became frustrated and slid into the locked building when a resident exited from it. I didn’t have my friend’s loft number; so I aimlessly walked around the floors calling her until my phone died. As a last resort, I went over to the mailboxes to look for her name.
Sitting on top of the mailbox itself was a large manila envelope containing some small cylindrical object with a note attached. Curious, I read the note.
“Dear Crackhead. My child found your crack pipe in the garage by my car, you sick degenerate…” It went on for about a page explaining that this was a place where kids were present and the owner of said pipe should be ashamed of causing such social pollution. It was a nasty letter, to say the least. But, the writer was returning the crack pipe to the crack head, which boggled my mind. I took the envelope and ran all the way out of the lobby and down the stairs to my car. I locked the door.
It took me close to a year to work the note and pipe into some artwork. I’d create something and then quickly destroy it or show it once or twice, then rip it apart and start again. All of my paintings back then had at least 3 or 4 failed works underneath them. Most pieces floated from idea to idea until they found the perfect spot or someone purchased it before I could destroy it again.
The artwork finally came together with a no smoking sign from Starbucks and the portrait of a very classy white woman. In between the woman’s luscious red lips and her delicate hands, I placed the crack pipe. Above her went the no smoking sign. It was perfect, though no one purchased it.
I placed it in one of my exhibitions at the I-5 Gallery in Los Angeles, but the night before my drop-off, I changed the background from a charcoal ink splatter as I painted it a vibrant and striking solid red.
The piece, entitled “Crack” sold that day to a middle-aged optometrist, who was slightly more excited to have crack art in his home than should be expected. More pieces of mine began to sell, enough of them so that I could afford better material, though I rarely did this as I didn’t want to take my art in that direction.
The newspapers were a natural progression of my artistic endeavors. In 2007, I traveled to London for the first time. I took the tube, where disgarded newspapers stacked up to my knees and covered the train floor. Londoners get free papers, read them on their journey and throw them on the floor of the train when they are done. I happened to be alone on that particular tube, my only company on that long journey was the newspapers. When I got off the train—my hands smeared with dirty newspaper ink—I had a pretty good idea where I wanted to take my art.
I love portraiture, old and new, but I really wanted to find a new and interesting way to show it. Enter: newspapers. I started to dig away into the heart of a person’s story by using newspapers. The drawings started to create a fuller understanding of the subtext—whether that be some deep metaphorical meaning or a joke.
Since 2007, three newspapers have gone out of business in the US on a yearly basis. Like “Newsweek” in 2011, the print publications go digital, changing the format so drastically that they have become tabloid—holding on to any for headline for ad money. And now everybody knows everything and knows nothing at the same time.
With the rise of this trend in digitalized information, now it’s just the weird hoarders and myself collecting these quickly dwindling newspapers. In opposition to society’s desire for quick information and adoration of seeming limitless technology, I feel there is actually something of value in these pages. Even though I take the piss out of them, cut up, rip up, tear up everything about them, I still—and perhaps always will—have a deep appreciation for newspapers and magazines. To preserve them in my own way.
I cover them in plastic and heat/light resistant glue. This is my way—the way in which I make art—to preserve these artifacts.
Each page is a story.
Each ad tells more than I could ever paint.
And I want the viewer to not just look at my work, but to read it.
Terrazzo’s artwork will be featured in The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review’s gallery next week starting June 20, 2013.
Annie Terrazzo has been creating mixed media and trash portraiture for almost 10 years and has sold over 400 works in that time. “Detritus”, Annie’s recent artistic endeavor that is made completely out of newspapers and vintage magazines from around the world.
Originally from Colorado, Annie studied art with her family of jewelers and plein air artists, then moved on to study graphic design and portraiture in San Francisco. Since then, she has devoted her time to capturing the current depreciation of newspapers and found paper, making fun of it, as well as preserving them. In the future you can see her work at The Hive Gallery and Studios in downtown LA, and a solo show in Santa Monica at Hale Arts beginning Oct 18th through the 30th in 2013.