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Annie Varnot

Annie Varnot: W/hole
Sunroom Project Space | May 19–July 1, 2012

Annie Varnot accumulates discarded objects and nontraditional materials, transforming them through painstaking methods into sculptures and installations. Both material and process are significant to the content of her work. She began her current, highly personal body of work a few years ago during a residency at Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in Nova Scotia. Varnot had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was grappling with how to come to terms with the illness and her own mortality. Varnot befriended a nearby poultry farmer and collected eggs that were deemed “unsellable” according to agricultural standards. She washed and hollowed the dirty or irregularly shaped eggs, thereby salvaging these cast-offs. Associating the fragility of these eggs with her own vulnerable physical and emotional state, Varnot decided to use them as artistic material. She set each egg in plaster to make hundreds of ambiguous sculptural forms with odd protrusions that are mysterious yet seem strangely familiar.

Her Sunroom Project, W/hole, emerges from a desire to create a serene space for contemplating life’s impermanence, as well as the potential for renewal and growth. The sculptures evoke a range of associations from sexual organs to tumors to living cells or microorganisms. Varnot’s videos, which accompany the sculptural elements of the installation, focus on process by attempting to elucidate the visceral experience of working with these eggs. At the same time, the violent acts depicted—puncturing the eggshell, draining its contents—speak to the trauma of going through the invasive medical procedures used to battle life-threatening diseases. The videos work in conjunction and in tension with the white objects on view as vehicles for overcoming the fear of the unknown and for reflecting on the cycle of life, death and renewal.

Varnot earned an MFA in painting from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, and a BS in studio art from Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY. Her work has been exhibited widely, including shows at Galapagos Art Space, Lumenhouse and SmackMellon, all in Brooklyn, NY; 55 Mercer Gallery, Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts and Caelum Gallery in New York, NY; Hampden Gallery and Herter Art Gallery, both in Amherst, MA; and Islip Art Museum, East Islip, NY. Varnot has participated in numerous artist residencies, including Jentel in Banner, WY; La Napoule Art Foundation in Mandelieu-La Napoule, France; Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in Canning, Nova Scotia; The Carriage House, Islip Art Museum; and Weir Farm in Wilton, CT. She has been the recipient of several grants, including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. Varnot is a select member of the Drawing Center Viewing Program and the Pierogi Gallery Flat Files. 

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W/hole, 2012
Eggshells and hydrocal
Dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist

 W/hole, 2012

W/hole, 2012
Video still
Courtesy of the artist

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Milton & Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.