Ann Resnick – ‘The Richness of Life’

Ann Resnick’s work is multilayered; she plays with paper and cut-outs and prints, and creates not just flowery scenes about life, but also about loss:  “Loss is inevitable, and taking note of our collective and individual loss is a human preoccupation,” Resnick says.  “The impulse to remember the passing of friends, relatives and those whose lives might otherwise go unremarked upon is the foundation of much of my current work.”  Working directly with newspaper cut-outs or with burned paper and imagery derived from other sources, Resnick makes her own thoughtful and visually fascinating memorials to honor both the lives of strangers and the lives of the people she loved most.

In The Gallery at Pioneer Bluffs, Resnick presents a sea of rich flowers, each one of which can be seen as honoring a life—as well as Life.  Resnick’s work literally and figuratively shows depth.  “The layering of the works call immediately to mind relationships,” wrote Wichita writer Mike Dwyer.  “We think typically about loss in terms of a person—mother, sister, lover—but when we think again … it’s the relationship. That’s what’s gone, that’s what never again will be engaged, and the variation within each element combined with the interaction of the foreground against the background, the burned paper against the razored newsprint, causes the viewer to experience the emptiness, the interior chaos. Only briefly step away, to a distance of ten or twenty feet, and the pieces become joyful and lyrical again, portraits of what was lost before it was lost.”

In other work, Resnick removes all external references—there are no branches, no flowers—nothing but two layers of burned paper. If one looks, one can discern the outlines of bouquets. “But the images (or apparitions, if you want to call them that, for they are terrifying) are enigmatic and abstract, akin to more biological structures under a microscope than anything familiar. With no externalities to consider, the interplay of the two layers takes center stage and speaks to the deepest level of relationship, infiltration. The connections between people are mysterious and intuitive. One life is laid against another; different, in places redundant, in places complementary. Filled with frailties and wonders and bonds and betrayal. And when the two are taken together, there is a life that results—just as peculiar, but fuller, somehow. Less lonely.”

However, there is another dimension. The layers work together, but also separately. Dwyer wrote: “The empty spaces in each layer evoke the mind as it ages, the holes that develop, the dead memories, the gaps. I too am being lost.

There’s a poignancy, but it is oftentimes overwhelmed by the splendor of the cuttings, long, thin tendrils that are burned into existence, and because of that burning rendered infinitely fragile. They break sometimes, inevitably—it was too much to attempt, too much a risk—but the shards are left in anyway, and the piece turns back tender. Loss.”

But also fascination. It’s amazing, really, the contents of a life, the richness of it, how much there is to be lost. Resnick in her own sublime way recreates this rich content of Life and gives us an amazing visual depth. “You enter relationships with the works,” wrote Dwyer, “an open-ended conversation to be picked up again and again, and you feel a crushing sadness but at the same time an exhilaration, obviating the need for consolation.”

Trained as a printmaker, Resnick has engaged a broad range of materials and processes, from wood burning to digital signal processing, and uses that range to produce large-scale, thought-provoking, sui generis works. Beyond that however, she is a cultural advocate, and dedicates a large portion of her time each year to activities that advance the arts as a whole.

Born in upstate New York, Resnick attended SUNY Potsdam and the University of Northern Carolina. Alongside a 20-year history of exhibitions, she operated Project Gallery out of an abandoned warehouse in Wichita, Kansas, showcasing the work of artists from around the country as well as the work of local artists.

Reactions to Resnick’s work include: “… the flowers installations, it’s all brilliant, beautiful work both in conception and in the making of. In fact, it’s some of the best work I’ve seen being done anywhere in the country right now. I recognize a thoughtful intelligence, a dry sense of humor and great technical craft done without a lot of egoistic fanfare. With art this strong, no fanfare is needed.”

Ton Haak,
Matfield Green KS, April 2015