Anna's Background

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I grew up on a farm in Northern Wisconsin, a tomboy only child who ruled over a kingdom of cows and fields, barn cats and climbing trees. The farm was also a small resort with 5 cabins, cross country skiing, sleigh rides, and an ever rotating mix of guests that doted on me. At my core, I am a story teller. Every piece of work I create tells a story, and these stories were shaped by that farm, the people I met who stayed there, by my grandparents and parents who raised me in that place.

From there, I graduated with a degree in creative writing from Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN. In 2015, I earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University.

Jobs I’ve had: strawberry picker, grocery store checkout girl, gas station attendant, journalist, golf course club house girl, tutor, Distance Education office slave, marketing manager, graphic designer, green house worker, tutoring center coordinator, barista, teacher, college ambassador, etc.

Photography Background and Process

My grandpa used to carry around an old camera wrapped in a brown leather case. He took pictures of every vacation that he went on with my grandma or anything happening around the farm from hay bailing to the building of those cabins. When I was still in second grade, he put a camera in my hands. Photography has been part of my life ever since.

My grandpa helped me take a picture of an old hay barn on my parent’s farm. The picture won first place in a photo contest for children. The next year, I won second place with a photo of a curved rock bridge from the early 1900’s. From there, I showed my photography at various 4-H fairs. 4-H also offered photography classes that I went to. When I got to high school, I took pictures for the local newspaper, many of them ending up on the front page.

When I met my husband in college, he happened to have learned photojournalism in the military, so my unorthodox photography education continued with him as my teacher. He taught me about exposure lengths and ISO. Together, we learned how to develop photos in the dark room at our college. Since college, we’ve shot a couple weddings together.

Of all the different kinds of photography I’ve done from the weddings to the newspaper, my favorite kind is what I do now with the digital collages. It allows me to take an ordinary photo and turn it into something layered and unique. It makes me wish my grandpa was alive to see what he started.

Collage Background and Process

Collage making came about in a more meandering way than photography. I wanted to take arts classes in high school, but my rural school only offered art classes at the same time as band, and I was always in band. Though I didn’t understand it at the time, the first collage I made was my high school bedroom. One wall was devoted to anyone who came over and wanted to draw on it or leave their hands prints in cheap paint from Ben Franklin. The ceiling was covered in my own hands prints in rainbow colors. The other walls were plastered with magazine clippings, my best friend’s drawings, fliers, really anything I found that I liked the look of. It was intense mishmash of color and layering that was hard to take in all at once.

From that point in high school through college, I saved anything that I thought was visually appealing. From dorm rooms to various apartments, I lugged old shoe boxes full of post cards, Chinese takeout recipes, coffee clutches, stamps, and other things that, in a way, seemed like other people’s trash. I couldn’t stop myself from buying old magazines at thrift stores. This whole time, I had no idea what I was saving all this stuff for or what I could do with it. I even had a bag full of hotel soap wrappers.

After college, I picked up a boring desk job. I needed something creative in my life so one night, I started looking through all those boxes and accidentally discovered collage making. I really wasn’t sure what I was doing, but I liked what I was making. I hung some of it in my apartment and got unexpected praise from friends and family. I guess I’ve been hooked since.

What Anna’s up to these days:

I I live in Northeast Minneapolis with my best friend/husband and our three cats, Leona, Edgar AKA The Maine Coon, and Freddy AKA Susan Boyle AKA Munchkin AKA The Munch. When I’m not arting, I’m trying to be a writer, and when I’m avoiding writing, I’m Farming with my parents, designing, editing, or doing life with my wonderful friends and family.

Why "Stargirl" Art?

Stargirl Art is a weird name, a little dreamy or cheesy. But it says everything you need to me about me as an artist.

The name comes from a character in a Jerry Spinelli book. She is a free spirited high schooler who shows up to school wearing a ridiculous cloths and sings happy birthday to students she isn’t even friends in front of everyone. She takes anonymous ads out in the classifieds to encourage people. Her attitude toward the world is focused outwardly on blessing others. She expects nothing in return. She isn’t aware of how she is different from her classmates.

Now hold that image for a moment while I diverge into a tangent about the importance of art in my life.

The role art has played in my life has been significant. Certain creative works, which is true for all of us, have been a blessing to me, have given me hope, and have inspired me. The great thing about art is that, when life is hard, I can receive it like a gift.

Art, in it’s various forms, is the thing that lets me know that there are other stories happening along side mine, that there is beauty that can bring life out of the darkest places.

Sometimes when making my own art, I approach it with the idea that I’m going to impress people with what I’m making, that I’m going to make a ton of money, and that, most importantly, everyone is going to think I’m SO awesome.

When I try to create anything with that type of attitude, everything turns into an awful, pretentious mess. There is nothing authentic about it. Nothing real.

Now, back to Stargirl. It’s her giving attitude that I admire. She had the gift of encouragement, and she used it. I have the gift of creativity, and I want to use it to make art that brings a little light, hope or beauty to someone else’s life. I want my art to bless people like other’s art has blessed me. When I create with this attitude, I like what I make. It feels authentic. It feels right.

I named myself Stargirl so that I will always be reminded why I’m making art: to bring hope, beauty, and enjoyment to others.