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Meet Annie Broderick

Today we’d like to introduce you to Annie Broderick.

Hi Annie, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I have been an artist for my whole life. I was painting while still in diapers, and as soon as I could talk, I was saying “I am an artist.” My mother nurtured creativity in me from day one, and she says my favorite question to ask her as a young child was “what can I make today?” I created nonstop: paintings, drawings, sewing projects, jewelry, clay creations, crafts of all sorts.

You name it: I probably made it. I come from a long line of creative women. My female family ancestry is filled with talents in all kinds of needlework. As a child, I was surrounded by various old pieces my family members had made: quilts, lace, needlepoint, garments, cross-stitch, embroidery, smocking, and the list go on.

I chose to focus on fine art in both high school and college. In college, I studied abroad in Paris, France, in a program entirely focused on studio art. I was fortunate enough to be a copyist at the Louvre and learned how to make my own oil paints during my time in Paris. I graduated from Davidson College with a degree in Studio Art with a focus on painting. In my twenties, I made hand-smocked garments and also started my own letterpress stationery business. I drew all of my designs and then printed them on heavy cotton paper on my antique letterpresses.

Fast forward to today: My current work combines my fine art background and the impact of the needlework that runs throughout my family history. I can even see how smocking and letterpress have made their way into my current work. All that I’ve ever created has informed what I use and how I create my current artwork, and this will continue to be true as my work evolves.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I hit a huge creative block in my twenties after I graduated from college that lasted for 11 years. At age 22, out on my own without the framework of art classes, professors, other studio art majors, and structured critiques, I came up empty with a brush on canvas. All of a sudden, I couldn’t paint. I didn’t understand why, and as a Plan B, I pursued a Master’s degree in Community Counseling.

Looking back on it, I think I needed my own therapy, which I eventually got. I also needed some time to experiment with other materials, other kinds of creating. That’s where sewing and printing came in. Hand-smocked garments and letterpress stationery were “Annie Light”, in my mind: I was creating, and I was so emotionally comforted by using my hands to master those crafts. They satiated my creativity during those years and didn’t require me to dig so deep.

I needed some time to come around to deeper work. I needed to build some identity and strength in order to dive back into fine art and the kind of expression I am most passionate about. After I had my second baby, at age 33, I began painting again. It was hard work: the paintings were not pretty. I had to grit my teeth and do the work as a means of excavating my inner artist self. There were so many layers to scrape away. I did it. I knew it was important. I knew I couldn’t NOT do it. And it got me to where I am today.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a multi-disciplinary artist. I currently work with textiles to create expressive, textural wall sculptures. I often paint these works. They bridge the gap between paintings and sculptures, in a way. I use a huge volume of fabric and compress it into an organic form by hand-pleating and stitching it as I see fit.

The end result is a bold visual statement and can be impactful in many different kinds of interiors, from private residences to corporate commercial settings. My gold wall sculptures are my signature, at this point. I think the physicality of my work and the way I manipulate the materials to convey contrasts of hard and soft texture and surface are what sets me apart. The form is so important to me, and I have created my own process, which then informs the completely unique outcome of each piece.

I have not seen other works like the ones I create, and I think it’s because this is my specific way of creating. I have made several wearable pieces – I am the proudest of those. My work is about protection and the power of the self, so having them on my body as wearable art is exciting and important to the deeper concepts and purpose I have as an artist.

Risk-taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
My work is all about risks. I risk a lot every time I create. There is uncertainty and vulnerability in the newness and possible failure of every single work. What if I am misunderstood? What if the piece is not well-received? What if it doesn’t matter to other people? What if I hate it? What if it simply doesn’t work? This is so integral to my experience as an artist: Risk is inherent, and risk is necessary. If there were no risk, there would be no thrill.

There would be no reason to create. Risk is a part of the deal when embarking on ANYthing new. If there were no risk, it would mean the work I was about to create already existed in the world. There would be no need for me to create it if it already existed. So I love risk! But I have to brace myself through the vulnerable creative process. Sometimes, I feel stung. Sometimes I feel scared. Sometimes I feel super upset. But the reward is so great.

To feel that I’m in my power in the process of creation, to feel the thrill of putting something entirely new out into the world, to feel seen and understood, to feel HAPPY because I expressed what is inside of me in the form of art… All of that makes the risk ENTIRELY worth it. I can’t NOT take the risk. I must.

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