“I am stuck on this earth as an artist”: interview with Anna Kristina Goransson

“Color Meditation”, installation. The entire piece is one continuous piece of felted and dyed wool. Copyright Anna Kristina Goransson

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

translation by Chiara Cordoni  and Marina Dlacic

Anna Kristina Goransson, photo Eden Reiner

Kristina spent her youth in northern Sweden before moving to the United States in 1985. Art has always had a significant part in her life, being her outlet since she didn’t speak English when she arrived in Atlanta, Georgia. Kristina graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994, and later specialized in Textile Art at the University of Massachusetts.

Felt is her medium. The artist creates sculptures in soft and round lines, some are hand dyed in bright colors,others keep the natural hues of wool. Her main inspirations come from the natural world, with its delicate yet strong shapes, interconnected with themes of emotions associated with feelings of protection, tenderness, the power of life and  the need of calm and order within the chaos.

The artist teaches workshops about the amazing versatility of wool and the process to create felt. Kristina continues her gift as an artist, creating art based on the beauty of nature patterns.
https://www.annakristinagoransson.com/home

Anna Kristina, why do you choose felt as your medium of expression? Can you tell us something about your story as an artist and how you started?

 When I started graduate school in fibers at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth I thought I was going to be working mostly with dyeing fabric and creating repeat pattern designs for screen printing. Within the first month of my first year, I took a three hour workshop in felting with Lily Liu who was an artist in resident there. I completely fell in love with felting and it instantly changed my trajectory. I was coming from a background in furniture making and to experience this magical material that was soft and colorful, and that could create three-dimensional form was a revelation to me. I mostly think in 3D so it became very natural for me to use this technique to create my ideas of three-dimensional forms.

“Beauty In Loss”, copyright Anna Kristina Goransson

“Beauty In Loss-detail”, copyright Anna Kristina Goransson

In the path you took to become a fiber artist, was there an event, a project or a person fundamental to your professional growth?

I do feel like I have a lot of people to thank for my path to fiber arts. Growing up in Sweden I watched my mother and grandmother weaving while surrounded by Josef Frank fabrics and this certainly started my love of fiber. As I got older I noticed that my favorite artists, including Magdalena Abakanovicz, used fibers in their work and this started to intrigue me more as I grew as an artist. Throughout my education as an artist, I have been so lucky to have amazing teachers and mentors like Charlie Swanson, Gail Fredell, and Jack Massey who have inspired me. In terms of a person who has truly guided me in this endeavour, it has been Charlotte Hamlin: my professor, my sometime colleague, my friend, my advisor, and just a super person. Without her guidance, support, and intelligence I would not be where I am today.

“Depletion” is a wall sculpture consisting of felted and indigo dyed hollow forms, copyright Anna Kristina Goransson

“Depletion – detail” is a wall sculpture consisting of felted and indigo dyed hollow forms, copyright Anna Kristina Goransson

What are your sources of inspiration? How do you choose the subjects of your work? Are there artists or artistic currents that inspire you?

Most of my work is a combination of looking at nature’s wonder, drawing in my sketchbook, and finding ways to combine an emotional topic with the patterns and forms of nature.  While I am making a piece I have a lot of hours to think and things tend to evolve in my mind and I start working between my sketchbook and day-dreaming (for lack of a better term). I do love looking at art but it doesn’t really inspire my creative process. A walk in the woods or looking at trees informs my art making much more.

“Defenses”, copyright Anna Kristina Goransson

“Defenses – detail”, copyright Anna Kristina Goransson

Can you tell us about your sculpture A Well Balanced Life?

This piece came out of feeling overwhelmed by many things in life. Being a mother, a wife, an artist, a daughter…it all can seem to be too much sometimes. I was thinking how people always say to me, “How do you do it all?” and in my mind I think, “Well, I don’t do it all and what I do is all half-assed and I usually feel in a delicate balance between sanity and just crumbling, like a pile of rocks about to fall”. Hence, I made the piece “A Well Balanced Life?”. It is also questioning the ever present pressure of having a well balanced life which seems, in fact, impossible.

“A Well Balanced Life?detail, is an installation of felted and dyed hollow “rocks” that seemingly balance in a tall, precarious stack. Copyright Anna Kristina Goransson

“A Well Balanced Life?detail, is an installation of felted and dyed hollow “rocks” that seemingly balance in a tall, precarious stack. Copyright Anna Kristina Goransson

 

What is, in your opinion, the relationship between art and craftsmanship? How important are they for you and what role do craft techniques play in the creation of your felt works?

I don’t believe there is a certain type of craftsmanship, I think any artist has craftsmanship and skill in whatever they are creating, whether they are creating art out of chewing gum or weaving geometric patterns out of fine silk. If you are making art, you are taking craftsmanship into consideration and making it your type of craftsmanship. I have come to feel that craftsmanship is subjective and I can appreciate most artists’ take on it. I do like to have my work get to a certain level of finish and yet, I’m never quite happy with it, and feel it could be even better crafted.

“Counting”, copyright Anna Kristina Goransson

“Counting-detail”, copyright Anna Kristina Goransson

In your opinion, what does it mean to “be an artist” today? Is art a vocation or a choice?

For me art has always been a vocation, there has never been anything else. Even if I wish at times that I could go get an office job, I know that it’s not possible. Making is a part of me just like a limb, so I am stuck on this earth as an artist. On most days, that is a brilliant thing, but it is not an easy life. I am often very far away in my mind, solving problems regarding the piece I’m working on. It takes a lot of mental time and space for me to create and that can become hard to find in daily life.

Is there a group of artworks, among your felt works, or a particular work that represents you more and to which you are particularly attached? And is there instead one of the many works that you have created over the years, one in which you do not recognize yourself and that you feel far from your current artistic style?

The two pieces that I feel represents me the most is “A Well Balanced Life” and “Symbiosis”. Perhaps I feel those are the most successful pieces I have created. They both incorporate repetition of three-dimensional form, creating pattern in a sense, that I find to be pleasing. They seem to have satisfying presence in a space which viewers also respond to positively. Having been a furniture maker, I can say that I feel far removed from the work I made in wood with hard angles. Some of the work I made still has a similar sensibility to the work I make now but there is certainly work I no longer feel any connection with. As I evolve, so does my work, so it is inevitable that my feelings will change regarding older work.

“Symbiosis” is a large scale wall installation consisting of individual, hollow form puzzle-like, felted and dyed pieces. Copyright Anna Kristina Goransson

“Symbiosis – detail” is a large scale wall installation consisting of individual, hollow form puzzle-like, felted and dyed pieces. Copyright Anna Kristina Goransson

“Symbiosis – detail” is a large scale wall installation consisting of individual, hollow form puzzle-like, felted and dyed pieces. Copyright Anna Kristina Goransson

“Symbiosis – detail” is a large scale wall installation consisting of individual, hollow form puzzle-like, felted and dyed pieces. Copyright Anna Kristina Goransson

“Symbiosis – detail” is a large scale wall installation consisting of individual, hollow form puzzle-like, felted and dyed pieces. Copyright Anna Kristina Goransson

What are you working on right now? Do you want to tell us about your current projects?

At the moment I am working on a large piece consisting of many hollow form, felted “stones” for a space that is like a giant staircase. The stones will create a dry riverbed coming down the levels of steps. The piece is called “Drained” and it speaks to how we, as a species, have managed to destroy the world that has been around for a very long time, long enough to weather rocks into smooth round stones. This piece is also referencing how I feel about everything happening in the world today and how the helplessness I feel drains me. I hope the piece speaks to people and that my ideas come across clearly. 

3 Comments on "“I am stuck on this earth as an artist”: interview with Anna Kristina Goransson"

  1. Trish Cassen | 20 February 2020 at 20:47 | Reply

    These pieces are absolutely stunning! I love everything about them – the colors, the shapes and the emotions they evoke. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Outstanding! The movement and flow of the color in relation to the form catches the viewer into a journey of the mind dipped in emotion. I really wish I could view these in person to get the full effect.

  3. Marilyn Clulow | 23 February 2020 at 18:22 | Reply

    love, love ,love, this site

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