As someone who combines mixed media portraits with "theatrical tableaus of mysterious beauty and solace", Ann Wood is an artist whose work is ever-increasingly intricate and impressive, crafting the most detailed paper flowers, food, insects and plants.
One half of a partnership called Woodlucker, which she founded in 1987 with animator Dean Lucker after graduating from Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Ann is a paper artist whose timeless style has roots in rural America. It also reveals a lifelong love of and dedication to collecting objects, a hobby that began aged 12 years old when she would line her childhood bedroom walls with painted paper flowers and birds.
Of late, Ann's work has taken on an extra level of realism, although how it could've improved from previous creations is hard to decipher. "I have become more interested in creating the most realistic botanicals that I can do," Ann tells Creative Boom. "I grow most of the plants that I create out of paper in my garden at my house. I examine the details in the texture and then colour match my painted papers to the live plants."
Based in her Minneapolis studio, where many of her collections are displayed, Ann is currently working on some "mushroom grow kits". "I am growing various types of mushrooms and studying their structure," she explains. "I just created a pink oyster mushroom that was quite difficult but I was able to figure it out. The moment when the paper starts to become alive and looks like a real plant is one of the many reasons I enjoy creating."
To make each piece look as realistic as they do, Ann says it's something that begins with an emotional reaction. "When I decide to make another piece, I try to look for a live plant that makes me excited. It needs to be something that I feel inspired to spend time looking at and the hours that it takes to dissect the parts. Colour is important, I definitely favour pink."
The events of the last two years have not slowed Ann's passion for paper art, nor her drive to challenge herself and try ever-more complicated flowers or plants. Towards the end of this summer, she began creating fuchsias out of paper.
"I like their whimsical quality so I dug in and figured out how to create the intricate petals on the blooms," she says. "They're really quite a complicated plant to think about in three dimensions. That's one of the reasons that I keep making paper botanicals, there's always another plant to discover and challenge my creativity."
Other recent creations include a bunch of paper radishes that are quite impossible to believe aren't real. Complete with little fake shop labels, handpainted and acting as a twist tie, this one artwork itself demonstrates how much Ann's creative practice has evolved over the last 35 years.
Another work is of some paper pink oyster mushrooms, something which she claims represents "trying some new techniques". She adds: "That's the challenging part of creativity, trying new things and not knowing if they can be done. It's one of the reasons that keeps me coming back for more experimentation."