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Conversations with Annette Coleman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Annette Coleman. 

Hi Annette, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
Through my art I hope to help lift the spirits and give each public art project that I install mesmerizing visual elements for the public to enjoy.

My work is rooted in nature and all of the biodiversity of our planet and those imagined beyond our own. Looking into the sky for inspiration and looking down into a tide pool for unique forms all come into play when working in stained-glass installations. Often featured in my glass are; fire, water, wind, and air, in abstracted forms. Public engagement has always been part of my art practice and helps form the connection to community that is so important to creating a unique sense of place at each of my installations.

I place quite a few of my sculptures in the rental programs that are part of the culture of mid to small size towns. Grand Junction, Alamosa, Fort Collins, Aurora, Avon, and Lafayette are a few of the locations where you can see sculptures from myself and other Colorado sculptors.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
One of the greatest challenges is to connect with the juries that select public art. With the pandemic we have seen double the amount of artists entering public art calls, so even more I need to tell myself that it is a numbers game and to celebrate any placement or commission that comes along.

Secondly communicating to the selection committees that I have solved the Colorado freeze/thaw cycle for mosaics and that my formula is crack resistant and the tesserae stays put. I make sure that my materials last a lifetime with only a wash of water-based sealant yearly to protect the grout from freeze-thaw cycles. Think Pompeii abstracted, with the vivid colors of today, durable, timeless and joyful.

I’m a great list maker and review and amend my to-do list daily as well as create long-term goals that I take steps to achieve that goal. One of the goals I had was to create 12 sculptures that I could rotate around Colorado to act as my billboards of what is possible in a community. I had a two-year goal and it took me 4 years to achieve, but without the intent, it would have never happened. Now for the next goal, and that is to break the $100,000.00 commission threshold.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I work each day and jump from writing copy for an art call at home to then arriving at the studio to make mosaics to creating videos to sell the sculptural installation. It seems seamless and effortless because I have been doing this type of work since I began my career in graphic arts, in addition to running my own ad agency. The business lessons I learned early in my career has helped me ask for more money for a slim budget and have the chops to show how I would spend the extra budget. Artists typically undervalue their contributions in our culture. I hope to inspire others to speak up and change this aspect of underpricing art. Being an artist is one of the hardest things you can do successfully but rewarding and life-affirming. We need more creative thinkers in all walks of life and I hope that my installations can help create a spark in someone’s creative ventures outside the art world.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
Be patient, most of the public art projects take more time than you would think. There is more administriva, than you would want as an artist. Engineers, fabricators, committees, and staff can all ask for additional documents, samples and projects stall for things out of my direct control. During the pandemic, my metal costs have creeped up, up, and up, telling an art committee that the sculpture that you could easily build on budget and on time can no longer hit either of those marks is something that I’ve had to learn.

But I love it, every day is different and creative from creating a maquette to pricing a piece for a commission. I would encourage any artist to begin with a small local installation to begin the process of building a portfolio.

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