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Head Shot Ann Vollum - Jim Horton 2019 D


Ann Vollum is a New Jersey fiber and mixed media artist whose artistic journey has progressed through painting, line drawing, book making, paper cuts, to hand stitched textiles and fiber sculptures. Inspired by the macabre, Ann was born in 1963 in Zimbabwe and grew up in Zambia, she was sent to a merciless boarding school in England, and learnt to be a quiet rebel. Her “Beasties” are subconsciously drawn from her early childhood and interact with characters, mostly inspired by vintage illustrations and medieval imagery. Ann’s allegorical narrative tableaux are hand stitched on either natural linen or eco dyed fabric, thus grounding her subjects in nature. Ann also makes soft sculptures from natural, eco and rust dyed rescued fabrics which echo the earth, bush and masks of Africa. On the quirky side, she makes colorful wet felted sculptures.

In addition to her inclusion in the 2022 and 2023 Art Fair 14C Showcase, Ann has also been juried into the New Jersey Arts Annuals at Noyes Museum, New Jersey State Museum and The Gold Standard of Textile and Fiber Art at Westbeth Gallery, New York. Ann has recently completed a residency at the Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation, New Jersey. 


In my work I tell stories with an unwritten script inviting the viewer to have their own unique interpretation.


Things are never quite as they first appear in my narrative tableaux which portray an innocence and charm on the surface, but have an underlying sinister and dark menace to them. My characters are mostly sourced from vintage illustrations, the Beasties that interact with them are from my subconscious imagination. I have developed a “language” of “characters” that re-appear again and again, look for bats, snakes and of course Beasties with sharp teeth and long tongues. Often there are Beasties inside Beasties...the question is are they dinner or off-spring? —the viewer is left to decide. My tableaux are hand stitched often on reclaimed linens, techniques may include natural hand dying, appliqué, acrylics, Inktense pencils and lace boarders. 

Sculptural pieces came from a need to deal with pandemic angst and as a contrast to the heavily stitched pieces. As life becomes faster paced and increasingly automated I am drawn to an organic, slow, meditative process valuing craftsmanship and sustainability. I work with rescued fabrics which I dye with acorns or black walnuts, the fabric is then eco dyed with leaves and onion skins to create depth of color and pattern. My complex organic, abstract sculptures are inspired by natural formations. Fabric is cut, sewn into “poufs”, stuffed with rescued PET fibers and embellished. “Poufs” sprayed with vinegar are rust dyed resulting in a rich earthy palette, then assembled and stitched onto a hardware cloth form. I aim to awake imagination and awareness!

Portraits capture the essence of a person by "painting" in stitch using one strand of embroidery floss to create a dense multi-layered, complex surface to capture the sitter's personality. Recent portraits are hand stitched on eco dyed fabrics grounding my subjects in nature.

Photo: Jim Horton, Gallery photos: Megan Maloy, April Tracey

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