Indianapolis Suburbs, 2020

Ann Toebbe

Indianapolis Suburbs, 2020
Gouache and paper collage on panel
28 x 30 in

The focus of my paintings is domestic life. Earlier pieces, before 2011, were based on my memory and my connections to certain homes and rooms. Moving forward I’m often working with other peoples memory and I use collections of photographs that I snap when I visit people’s homes as source material. At this point in my practice, my research requires me to be nosy and somewhat intrusive. I equate it with being an anthropologist or journalist. Being an artist gives me a lot of time to imagine, to observe, and to investigate. In the studio I reconstruct who I am and my connections to the world, moving between past and present and the personal, cultural, and political.

Over the years I have expanded my subject matter to include the lives of caregivers, exes, friends of friends, in-laws, and friend’s parents, asking my subjects to provide written descriptions and/or photographs of a remembered interior. From these materials I reconstruct a memory employing drawing, painting, and paper collage. I employ a systematic and labor-intensive process to build my compositions resulting in tightly organized and highly detailed paintings. My paintings present the bird’s eye view of an aerial map alongside the flattened two-dimensional renderings found in children’s book illustrations. I embed a painting with clues to its orientation while disorienting the viewer by rotating the composition; the flower vases are all upright, yet the oven is upside down. 

My current body of work for my upcoming solo show “Cooler By the Lake” is an autobiographical group of painting drawing from the sixteen years I’ve lived in Hyde Park on the southside of Chicago. I track my early years here to the present; the places, people, and culture that are woven into my routine. A ten-block loop of shops, family, studio, and Lake Michigan.  

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Ann Toebbe received her BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1997. She earned an MFA in painting from Yale University in 2004 and a DAAD Scholarship to the Universität der Kunst, Berlin in 2004-05. The primary focus of her paintings is domestic life. Toebbe’s process is labor intensive, employing freehand painting, flat geometry, geometric abstraction and intricate patterning. Her paintings are often multi-media works with furniture and objects collaged on the surface cut from paper the artist paints in her studio. Drawing on folk art and Indian Miniature paintings her compositions play with flatness and multiple points of views. Each painting can simultaneously have inside and outside views, views from above, and objects and figures portrayed from a straight on view. 

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