Next Generation: Finalist, Annie Vought

Next Generation: Finalist, Annie Vought

Published on Monday, May 18, 2015. This article appears in the June/July 2015 issue of American Craft Magazine.
Department Feature
Mediums Paper
Author Staff
Annie Vought, Gosh I’ve Been Here Before

Gosh I’ve Been Here Before, 2014, hand-cut paper, 3.25 x 4.1 ft.; Photo: Rebecca Jay

“We’ve been using paper as a vehicle for communication, in one way or another, for centuries,” Annie Vought points out. And yet, how often is it so utterly transformed? Vought, who has an MFA from Mills College, pays homage to the handmade with her work. Under her X-Acto knife, paper becomes impossibly delicate – a perfect medium for the transmission of incomplete stories and inner thoughts, the swirling and fragile narratives of human experience. 

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work? 
I have found my strongest sense of self through my artwork. No matter how my work changes, and no matter the medium, it is the most grounding aspect of my life. When I have anxiety, fears, or self-doubt, I can refocus my internal dialogue by imagining how I could translate those feelings and experiences into a project. Art is a source of relief for me. 

What’s challenging? 
Sometimes I feel like my work isn’t conceptual enough, but my hope is that the source material and the aesthetics draw people in enough to take time with the work and to discover that there’s complexity and meaning there. 

Talk about a favorite piece of yours. What makes it significant to you? 
I just finished a piece, Gosh I’ve Been Here Before. It was by far the most detailed, longest project I have ever worked on. Much of my work has been an investigation into people’s inner lives and the ways they express their thoughts through writing. But through this piece I was able to put a finer point on what I am trying to articulate. 

In basically all of my work, the text is never legible. I put so much effort and labor into it, and yet you can only read bits and pieces. You get fragments. It’s a reflection of how we struggle to express ourselves through language, sometimes successfully and sometimes not; sometimes we just get fragments of meaning. 

How do you define success? How will you know when you’ve made it? 
I am not sure I will know. My intent is to just keep making work. I have goals I would love to achieve; hopefully I’ll just keep crossing them off my list for as long as I can. 

What are three words people would use to describe you? 
My husband says: “Kind, spontaneous, and unique.” 

Read more Emerging Voices Award profiles.