Thursday, April 9, 2009

Way of the Cross-Interview with Anna Kocher Part 3

Jesus is nailed to the cross

How did you decide to be an artist? Where and with whom did you study? What has been your inspiration?

I've always drawn and at the end of high school received a lot of encouragement from teachers to pursue art in college, but basically disregarded it as being "impractical." I went to Gordon College with the intent of studying psychology, but was not at all satisfied and very much missed art. I met with the head of the art department, Bruce Herman, to see if I could maybe take one class (at that time only those with majors or minors declared in art were able to take courses in the department) and by the end of the conversation we both knew that that's what I needed to be studying. I went for a walk in the woods afterwards and remember feeling so grateful that God had made it so clear to me, because I'm not the kind of person for whom things are usually clear. I was also able to do a semester as a visiting student at Temple University and a semester studying Renaissance art in Italy.
Bruce Herman was my adviser and mentor and his perspective on the relationship between Christianity and art and also on the human body have probably been the most influential things to me in my development as an artist. George Wingate and Cherith Lundin were also incredible teachers. Having not intended to study art, I really stumbled into the ideal place. Gordon is actually now the headquarters for CIVA [Christians in the Visual Arts] so to have wound up studying art there "accidentally" was rather fortuitous.

Christ dies

For all the moms who want to pursue their talents in writing, theater, music [you know who you are!], when do you find time to paint? Is it difficult to turn your passion on and off around nap schedules and all your other mom duties?!

It has definitely been difficult finding time to paint with two little ones. I see this time of life as a time of hanging on. I sometimes start to get discouraged and feel like I'm not being productive enough, but ultimately if I'm painting regularly, even if it's only once or twice a week, and feeling like I'm forging ahead, if slowly and painfully, in both what I'm trying to express and in my ability to express it, that is success for me right now. During the year after my son was born I felt like I would never paint again. Even if I did get the time I didn't have the energy or the inspiration or anything I needed to be able to do it. But after a year I was able to go back to it and gradually expand and expand until my daughter was born. After that I had another dry spell. The second time around I was more able to see it as a period of dormancy rather than death. I look forward to having more time to really pursue the ideas that excite me, but I don't want to spend this time of having little kids always feeling like I should be doing something else, no matter what I'm doing. I know that eventually have more time and energy and that all this time I've spent becoming a mother and nurturing my kids will enrich my understanding of myself and life in general which will, in turn, enrich my work. In the meantime, I just need to give enough to my painting to allow it to stay a living thing and not let that part of me die out completely.
My family, including my mother-in-law, my husband, and my mom, have been really supportive, have taken me seriously, and at times intervened to make sure I get uninterrupted time to work, because there's only so much you can do when you have kids on different nap and school schedules, or not napping at all, and when you still have to somehow keep clean clothes and nutritious food coming! I do think that I am a much deeper person than I used to be as a result of having kids. My capacities for both pain and joy have been increased, sometimes beyond what I think I can bear, and I know that when I eventually get a little more space in my life to work it will come out in the paintings and allow me to tap into places in myself I was unable to access before I was a mother.

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