Some people plot out every move whether in life or in art. Anne Hughes is not one of those people. Her life and art is a journey of twists and turns where she takes advantage of an opportunity, a gesture or serendipitous coming together of color and marks from which she jumps into an adventure. Born in Canada of American parents, Hughes grew up outside of Montréal, Québec. Exposure to cultural diversity, along with curiosity and fascination in subjects from geography, literature, nature and the environment and, of course, art led to an early realization that art is a means to explore any interest. She received a BFA from Concordia University in Montreal and embarked on a short archeological stint in California. Then a number of artist residency fellowships and the Brucebo artist travel scholarship allowed her to continue to explore her art and other areas of the world. Graduate School in Illinois and Ohio led to MA and MFA’s in art and unforgettable studies in Bali. All along she has exhibited in Canada and the States. Hughes now makes her home in the Chicago area although still not rooted there. Her work is based in painting, drawing, sculpture and amalgamation of the three. This can be seen in her current showing at ZIA Gallery.
Anne Hughes’ assemblages feature a jubilant expression of life, as she seeks “to evoke the wonder and precarious state of our interconnectedness.” Continental Drift, an impressive shadowboxed polygon, contains a juxtaposition of sharp and soft nature-inspired elements where irregular green flames of swirled glass along with painted-Masonite contour forms rise and descend outside the frame. The multi-dimensional piece captures the complexity of life and relationships between humans and nature. Continental Drift features several unique uses of materials including glass tubes of varying widths and lengths each topped with a marble. The merging of hemispheres, represented in undulating forms of cool and warm colors reminiscent of jet stream winds, is punctuated by a humanlike figure diving right through the center of the piece. A fantastical universe of events unfolds as if recreating a dream sequence of one of life’s definitive moments, such as birth or death. Hughes establishes a continuity that holds all the pieces together and promises richer levels of understanding upon repeated viewings. Hughes inspires awe and curiosity. The duality of life presented in Continental Drift provides a stimulus for viewers to consider relationships in their own life. Bringing a sense of beauty and grace to the unyielding truths of life is no easy task, yet Hughes does exactly that as Continental Drift acts as a mirror for the self. This is quite a significant accomplishment, and worthy of attention and consideration within and far beyond gallery walls.