From The Garden by Ana Mckay and Ally Messer (interview)

From The Garden by Ana Mckay and Ally Messer (interview)

Emma Rash, current HP intern, chatted with Ana Mckay and Ally Messer about their art show, From The Garden, up now at Holland’s Micro Gallery at Record Street Bibo, with a Closing Reception on August 30.

From the garden flier WEB

EMMA: What are your biggest inspirations when it comes to art?

ALLY: I don’t know if I have artistic inspirations, are you talking about artists?

EMMA: Anything that makes you want to make art.

ALLY: For some reason I keep drawing all these root vegetables with faces on them, so I mean I must like vegetables or something.

ANA: I can’t think of any– I mean, loads of artists inspire me and I admire them but my own art is kind of just what I do. I’m really inspired by nature and, like, nostalgia for childhood a lot.

ALLY: I guess I’m inspired by round shapes, also childhood, I agree with Ana on that. I have kind of a cartoony style, which I feel like in the past only men have popularized, so I kind of want to bring legitimacy back to women’s art, as far as whimsicality and stuff like that.

ANA: Usually my style is cartoonish and whimsical, but for this show I went more realistic to kind of imitate traditional diagrams and things of plants and flowers, bringing a new twist to it I guess. It was different trying to do more realism, but not actual realism.

EMMA: Why did you want to have this art show together?

ANA: Alisha asked us, haha. We both, I think, like nature and natural imagery and that’s what we draw all the time anyway. This show is kind of like two separate shows but also together because we didn’t collaborate on any pieces and we sort of have different artist statements. So, yeah, we both like that natural imagery and that kind of ties our work together, we both use that literal thing to depict different things.

ALLY: Yeah, I think the show is very cohesive, we both chose our own direction to go with it. Mine being more stylized, like little characters and Ana’s being really, just beautiful watercolor illustrations which are… amazing. I’m a big fan. I feel so grateful that we’re able to have this show and I was telling Ana earlier, there’s nobody else I’d rather have this show with.

ANA: There’s nobody else I’d rather have this show with. And neither of us has ever had a solo show before, so I feel really good about having this one with Ally.

ALLY: Me too, it’s like our debut.

ANA: What else can we talk about? This show is called From The Garden.

EMMA: How did you get that name?

ANA: Well, it’s about gardening and it’s stuff that came from the garden. Ally came up with a list of possible titles and that one just felt the best.

ALLY: We went through a few, and narrowed it down to From The Garden because we thought it was kinda cute and it sounds like a farmers market type of sign and we liked that about it.

ANA: And the things that we depict are kinda cultivated. Like Ally’s root vegetables, it’s not what’s found in nature, and my flowers, they’re not growing, they’re picked, so it’s nature but also with the human influence of that.

(at this point in the interview, I was stuck thinking of questions.)

EMMA: I usually interview bands, so.

ANA: What would you ask us if we were a band?

TUCKER (not one of the artists, just my brother): You’d ask them… What kind of music they’re listening to right now.

EMMA: Yeah, what kind of music inspires your art?

ALLY: Ummm… I don’t think music really inspires my art, but I listen to a lot of Top 40, haha.

ANA: Umm… I listen to music. No, I listen to podcasts when I draw. I suggest Van Sounds and Harry Potter and the Sacred Text and The Illusionist.

EMMA: What usually makes you want to draw something? Is there any specific thing that makes you like “oh, I need to make art now”?

ALLY: I have a good one for this. One of my pieces in this show, I like saw it in my bedsheets, like in the creases and I was like “I’m gonna take a picture of it with my phone,” and then I tried to draw the face in it and that’s how my rutababy was born. So that’s what inspires me to draw, faces I see in my sheets.

ANA: I don’t know if anything specifically inspires me. The way I work is like I don’t make anything for a long time and suddenly I feel like making a bunch of stuff.

ALLY: Artist’s block is real.

ANA: Very real. It’s like a cycle that I expect because it’s very real, happens all the time.

EMMA: How did you guys get into making art, did you just start doing it on your own or is it something your parents do?

ALLY: I come from, like, a craft background. As a kid I was always playing with clay and any kind of craft you could do. Like needlepoint and knitting, pretty much anything where you could make something. I was doing it or at least I tried it at least once. As I got older I wanted to make a career out of it because art’s the only thing that’s really consistent in my life. I’ve always loved art, I’ve always loved making art , so it just seems like a nice, stable pick for my career and also something that I love doing and am passionate about.

ANA: My aunt is an illustrator and artist, and I’ve always had her around, my whole life. She’s really encouraged it so I’m the same as Ally, I’ve been knitting and sewing and drawing and painting forever. More recently I decided that I wanted to do it and put it out there more and sell it sometimes and be more… I don’t wanna say professional, but just share it more and do it more seriously.

EMMA: Do you want to make a career out of it?

ANA: I’m not sure if I wanna make a career out of it. I do want to definitely incorporate it more into my life. I’m not sure if it’s a career yet, but it’s something that I definitely do want to do for a long time.

EMMA: For a lot of your artwork, would you say there’s a meaning behind it, or is it just something you did?

ALLY: I try to include concept in a lot of my work, I need to get better at that. Mostly, my root people are my own emotions. So they’re like a little piece of me, each and every one of them, they’re like my little babies. I mostly get inspiration for their concept usually from emotion. I’ve done some works that are more political but I have yet to show them or finish them, so they’re not in this show.

ANA: I hadn’t even thought about it before but I definitely think that my emotions and feelings are a recurring theme in my artwork. I think I kind of struggle to do political art, I’ve tried a few times and still haven’t figured it out but that’s something I’d like to do because it matters to me. But for now, the stuff that I’m putting onto pages are my feelings and relationships and thoughts and that kind of stuff.

EMMA: Ally, since the root vegetables you draw are your own emotions, how did you decide to put those emotions on root vegetables.

ALLY: Uh, I really don’t know. The first one I did was the one I saw in the sheets and I was like, “you know what? I like root vegetables with faces, maybe this will be my thing,” and then I just kept making them. It’s really hard for me to come up with ideas for work, so to have one work where I can, not replicate it, but make a series was easy for me. This is a good natural step and I’ve never done a series before or the same thing multiple times and it’s really nice to have a complete body of work. But I have no idea where it came from, I’m still going through my brain everyday, like, what is it about fruits and vegetables? I think it has to do with the shape but that’s as far as I’ve got so far. I like round things, that’s it, though.