By Christina Stock
Roswell Artist-in-Residence Anne Muntges’ lecture and opening reception takes place at the Roswell Museum and Art Center, 1011 N. Richardson Ave., March 22 at 5:30 p.m.
Muntges has embraced Roswell and New Mexico and included facets of local aspects into her work. What do we keep, what do we toss, what will we remember of those things that we say we own for a moment in time?
Muntges quit her job in New York and moved to the RAiR compound together with her life partner and her toddler. A gift of time thanks to Donald B. Anderson whose vision came to life in this residency in 1967. Anderson celebrates his 100th birthday in April. Thanks to him, Roswell is known as the cradle for the arts, not just for space exploration.
“It wasn’t a hard decision for me to make,” Muntges said. She had applied for the RAiR a couple of times before she got in. “I know that it would be for a normal person, hard to walk away from something like that (leaving a full-time job), but for me, I’ve been given a year, being with my family in this space.”
Muntges had connections to the RAiR program and learned about it early on. “I did my undergraduate work at the Kansas City Art Institute and the RAiR director before, Stephen (Fleming), he was my foundation instructor. I guess in some way, I’ve known this program for 18 years,” she said.
Asked about her background, Muntges said, “There is creativity in my family. My mom is a crafter and music is a big deal. My father plays half a dozen or more instruments. Language and science are big in my family, but as far as visual arts go, I am the first to pursue this. I think that they may not have understood what I was trying to do, but they helped me figure it out as I went and was supported.”
Muntges chuckled remembering her first decision pursuing the visual arts, “I made a very loud declaration in third grade,” she said. This didn’t change when it came to choosing her college as a high school graduate.
Muntges found support beyond that of her family. “I feel like I met a lot of really great people as mentors. My background is printmaking and printmaking is this community activity. You are taught to be around people and work with people to accomplish things, and through that, I built this beautiful network of people. One of my graduate professors, Adele Henderson, she was at this program (RAiR) in the ‘80s. She’s one of my big supporters and also one of my big rallying points. It has been really nice to bounce off of her,” Muntges said.
Like many artists, Muntges was able to experiment in her college years. While she originally thought to get into animation, her decision for printmaking became clear as soon as she encountered the technique. “They gave us this demo on a Gocco, which is this Japanese toy printer, it’s like a silkscreen,” she said. “You could make prints with. You would see this drawing, this little doodle that I made come to life so quickly. It was like instantaneous wow-moment. With print, I can play with so many different things all at once. Maybe not always knowing where it was headed. That was exciting to me because it meant there were a lot more unknowns.”
Asked when Muntges felt that people accepted her as a professional artist, she said, “Actually, that may be twofold. I did my grad school, working in Buffalo (New York State), having my studio. The first opportunity that really came through was the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, which has a big residency program in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s a hyper-competitive program with 1,200 applicants and they are taking only six people every time. I mysteriously made my way through this process.”
Being accepted in this prestigious program made it clear for Muntges that she was on the right path. She said she spent the entire residency experimenting and playing with her art.
“I started making drawing installations,” Muntges said. “I was drawing on objects; was putting things together; was creating work and it was vastly different to anything I have done to that point and it was just new and unknowable. After the residency was over, I just kept going on this idea.”
Muntges was accepted at the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship afterward. She said, “I get it now, I am an artist. It was really great. I could keep going. Those were those two formative moments.”
Her exhibit will include graphite drawings from New York City, from vacations, New Mexico and Roswell and a new part in bright colors that speak of her values in time.
“These are the two bodies I’ll show,” Muntges said. “In Buffalo, I had this huge space and time — in New York, we didn’t have the same resources. I was working out of an apartment, so I started walking around the neighborhoods and taking photos of signs, just handwritten signs, where people left marks in the space, just capturing time and hundreds and hundreds of things, figuring out how people live. With those photos, I made these pen and ink drawings. It was this quick snapshot of people letting others know that they were there.”
Muntges started manipulating the snapshots with the computer and out of those graphite sketches, formed them into an abstract moment in time where reality and art meet.
“It is like a computer glitch,” Muntges said. “There is an aesthetic to the glitch, but it was a moment that was actual, that is now translated for the second and third time. You can see the break from the formation.”
Her other work is a stark contrast with a kaleidoscope of colors, but has a similar message as the black and white aspects of life and human signage.
“I am cataloging everything I own — piece by piece. Instead of looking at them as individual pieces, it’s like one entire body of work as catalog ownership. It’s like catalog ownership No. 1, 2, 3. I am going to keep going until it’s done,” Muntges said.
She hesitates in giving the pieces titles. “It’s so hard with titles because it tells people how to see something, and I want them to walk in with the open curiosity that I have. You want to give them just the right amount of information. I feel like they feel what is happening, but can embrace it in their own way.”
It is not surprising that becoming a mother has influenced Muntges. “I’ve been contextualizing these bodies of work that I have been going through the last five or so years,” she said. “The cataloging that I am working on right now is much about the shift from being my own self-serving person to being a parent now. It was like this slow thing where you notice that the objects are not yours anymore. And you see these spaces become a lot more blurry. Where before, it’s just me and my partner. This is my studio — my rules, my studio, my space. But now, you don’t get to draw those lines anymore, do you? It’s not always a bad thing. Drawings have helped me see how these spaces become very blurry and maybe accept and wrap my head around it as we keep moving forward and being a family. It’s easier and easier because I understand who she (her daughter) is, who he is and how our worlds work.
“I think, what I do is very observational work in different ways, even though the bodies of work don’t seem often related. It’s how I understand and where I exist. The most obvious shift is this body of work that is growing right now. It is also kind of cool because it is that record of who we were a couple of months ago. It is an ever-shifting thing, the things we own is in a constant rotation,” Muntges said.
After her residency, Muntges’ plans are open. “After the show goes up, I start looking and seeing what’s coming together. It’ll work out,” she said. “We are still adaptable — I am excited about the next adventure.”
Muntges studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking in 2005 and at the University at Buffalo where she earned her Master in Fine Arts in Printmaking in 2008.
Based in Brooklyn, her work focuses primarily on highly detailed drawings, prints and installation. She has been exhibited at the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago and the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, among others. Most recently, her work was on view in the exhibition Drawn In, at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in Manhattan, New York.
Muntges’ work is in many collections including ones at California College of the Arts, Library of Congress, Joan Flasch Library, and the Burchfield Penney. She has been awarded a New York Fine Arts Fellowship in Drawing in 2014 and many residencies and fellowships since 2010, including Anchor Graphics, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and Guttenberg Arts.
For more information, visit rair.org, annemuntges.com or call RMAC at 575-624-6744.