Q: How long have you all been members and why did you join RoCo?
A: Annessa & Michael - We joined RoCo about two years ago. It is always great to support a local institution devoted to the arts and we love the opportunities you give for artists like us!
Q: You both are creators! Can you tell us a bit about your backgrounds and current artwork?
A: Michael- I studied illustration at The American Academy of Art in Chicago. While in Chicago I had a part-time job as a gallery assistant, ever since then I have been doing some sort of art handling/framing to pay the bills. I currently work as a preparator at The George Eastman Museum. My current artwork puts focus on materials and tools. I find the parts that make art so important that they have become the art themselves. I use a lot of heavy texture and repetitive objects in hopes to engage the viewer.
A: Annessa- During high school I decided to take a cosmetology course at BOCES. I saw hairdressing as a way to be creative while making a living. 10 years later and I am still cutting and styling hair. But when salons shut down during the pandemic, I had quite a lot of time on my hands. I began designing and making dolls to keep busy, and I quickly became obsessed. When the world opened up again I realized my work with doll making had only just begun. I knew I had to share it with others. I’m now 2 years into this journey and excited to continue working and expanding this form.
Q: Who do you consider to be your greatest artistic mentor? What did they teach you?
A: Michael- My wife Annessa is my mentor. There is a lot to learn when sharing a studio space with someone like her but mainly Her hard work, originality, and creativity has certainly taught me focus!
A: Annessa- My father. He’s an electrician by trade first and foremost, and the hardest worker I know. But right next to that he’s a gifted artist. Every now and again we pull out his portfolio from the early days where he has pages and pages of drawings of medieval warriors and anthropomorphic creatures. About 10 years ago he started welding and creating sculptures out of scrap electrical elements. He’s shown me that even if you have to work hard you should always make time for your passion projects and for that I am eternally grateful.
Q: If you could have one artist create your portrait, who would it be and why?
A: Annessa- Oooh, I want a renaissance or baroque style portrait done! They are haunting and aloof. I’d love to be portrayed as mysterious as they feel! So hey, Jan Van Eyck or Johannes Vermeer hit me up if you read this, and we can get to work!
A: Michael- This is tough for me. Honestly I’m really not a fan of figurative art. I always skip the portraits and figures to check out the minimal and abstract expression. That being said… who doesn’t want a high-contrast Warhol portrait of themselves!
Q: What is great about Rochester? What can we do better?
A: Annessa & Michael- Rochester means so much to us. Growing up in this area has been such a blessing. We love how this city puts such an emphasis on art. The music scene, the public art, the different galleries and artistic spaces we have. There truly is something for everyone here and it feels like we are only just scraping the surface of what this place has to offer. And while we know we have it good, we think there is a lot of work to do in supporting ourselves and our neighbors. One example being luxury apartments that get put up in established neighborhoods. We would rather see money invested in the communities we already have. It feels wrong to gut them out and attempt to start over for higher paying customers.
Q: Do you have a favorite piece of Public Art in Rochester? What do you like about it?
A: Michael- I love the sculpture park at The MAG. I’m excited that they are currently expanding and changing, the new Pia Camil sculpture- Lover’s Rainbow, is so beautiful. Walking through the park is always an adventure and I still find new hidden parts of Tom Otterness’ sculpture every time I go.
A: Annessa- Right now my favorite public art is a series of graffiti pieces that have been placed on the bridge foundations as you travel 490 from the Frederick Douglass Susan B bridge to the Clinton Ave bridge. There are 4 I know of and they’re captivating. Bright, bold, and unique. I can’t get enough of them.
Q: What are you currently streaming/watching/binging?
A: Michael- Currently anything StarWars. I love the expansive world building. And Imperial architecture is just *chefs kiss*
Oh and Lego content creators on YouTube. We have found ourselves in quite the Lego rabbit hole lately.
A: Annessa- Recently I have been watching and rewatching a British web series called Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared. It’s about these sesame street- looking puppets who find themselves in wild predicaments. Their world is made up of felt, catchy songs, and unexpected gore. It's colorful, bright, and most importantly confusing!