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‘Interaction with the machine’

“Lotus open” by Anne Farrell. (Courtesy of the artist)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Anne Farrell began life as a painter. Then she discovered the computer.

She traces her installations back to her work as a high school set designer. An intrepid observer, she can still visualize the giant pastry crowning the local donut shop, the huge wooden chair outside the furniture store and the water steps of Forest Lawn Cemetery in the Hollywood Hills. Her use of found objects dates to the floppy disc and the wall phone.

Hailing from a family of engineers, the Santa Fe artist felt immediately comfortable with a keyboard and a mouse, even though she evaded the family profession.

“I was always the black sheep,” she said. “So I was not uncomfortable with the technical aspects early on.”

Farrell’s work can be seen at Currents in Santa Fe through Nov. 29.

“A World Contained” lifts the veil on Farrell’s dexterity and adaptability.

“Cave Relic” by Anne Farrell. (Courtesy of the artist)

Farrell grew up in Los Angeles and then Connecticut before moving to Santa Fe in 1969. She documented the ascent of the Meow Wolf art collective on film before fame transformed it into a local must-see. Farrell still boasts a small installation in Meow Wolf’s “House of Eternal Return.”

Entirely self-taught, she spent 15 years as the division head of the Santa Fe Community College media arts program.

“It was new, it was challenging,” Farrell said. “The interaction with the machine had life.”

When she traded in her old P.C. for a newer version, she cried.

“It was like saying goodbye to an old friend,” she said. “It’s a tool like a hand is an extension of your head,” she continued. “A computer is an extension of your brain. And there was no established aesthetic. It allowed me to present stuff that’s kind of uncomfortable or edgy.”

Her Currents work consists of 3D printing using an iPad and sculpture.

First, she draws the geometry of the objects, be it the petals of “Lotus open” or the stalagmites of “Cave relic.”

“Hand” by Anne Farrell. (Courtesy of the artist)

“It’s sort of like a 3D geometry outline of the object,” she said. “The iPad had just upgraded and it seemed very capable.”

She sends the file to her printer to create the form.

“It’s kind of like an icing on the cake,” she said, “it prints in little drops.”

The lotus piece took 24 hours to print.

“It was exploring forms,” she explained. “It’s something I’ve been interested in since the beginning of my art career —— simple, substantial and iconic forms.”

“Blue Hand” came from a New York Times story about scientists reigniting a pig’s brain with enzymes.

“Guy” by Anne Farrell. (Courtesy of the artist)

“The image they had I found really interesting,” Farrell said. “It had the blue hands and the gloves. At the same time, I was going through a medical procedure with my own hand. I started seeing hands everywhere.”

She also sculpted five objects.

“Some of them actually suggest a hand,” she said. “They just feel really good in your hands.”

Farrell created the sculptures using trash and a material called sKratch that is similar to a non-toxic plaster.

The artist cites no specific influences. She long ago nixed art school because she didn’t want to be told what to do or adapt to a current style. She prefers the solitude of the studio.

“When COVID hit and everyone was freaking out, I thought this is wonderful,” she said, “because all I do is go into my studio and drool out of the side of my mouth.”

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