Tiptoeing into rooms, stealing glances, and slipping seemingly unnoticed behind, the viewer in Anna Wehrwein’s Shoulder Reader holds a position and weight of their own. Unaware, but not necessarily unwelcoming, Wehrwein's subjects appear in domestic settings, deeply engrossed in their actions. In turn, the viewer wanders through each scene as one would rooms of a house, haphazardly stumbling upon moments that hang heavy with quiet absorption.
Memory serves as the driving force behind Wehrwein’s candid imagery. Similarly to a deck of cards, Wehrwein thumbs through a pack of color-aid paper, taking into consideration aspects of temperature and luminescence. In February (2021), the deep red of the color-aid paper pervades the work. Barefoot upon a Persian rug a man solitarily strums a guitar. There is a moodiness to this work, a darkness that optically seems to contradict the initial heat exuded by the large exposed areas of red.
Intimacy expressed through depictions of closeness and touch add a sensory aspect to the works -- from the materiality of the color-aid paper itself, and its resistance to friction, to her subjects’ hands which grasp at the environment and people surrounding them, touch represents a tangible act of nurturing in Wehrwein’s work. In Care (2022), the subject is fully engaged in the act of watering plants. The plants seem to take over the composition seductively diverting attention from the figure. Wehrwein cleverly positions the act of care, the nurturing involved in watering plants, to become the subject turning both the caregiver and the plants into the action.
In Within Reach (2022), a man lies in bed, his body turned away from the viewer as it stretches the length of the composition. Broad gestural marks of disordered limbs and rumpled bed sheets expose a sense of spontaneity. The rich blue of the color-aid paper seeps through the multitude of mediums and marks that have been built upon the surface, lending to the overall disposition... blue. The viewer stands at the corner of the bed with the subject's left foot dangling precariously close. The work seems to ooze vulnerability and trust. The subject sleeps unbothered by the presence of the viewer in the room. The viewer consecutively watches the subject sleep, knowing that no matter how close their connection may be there are parts of a person that remain introspective and untouchable.
Wehrwein’s brightly hued subjects exude their individuality through personal actions which cannot be divorced from their character. The narratives Wehrwein weaves are personal and the viewer becomes a confidant, sharing in these “behind closed doors” moments. Relishing in the serendipitous acts of privacy Wehrwein generates fluid compositions that ripple with sentiments of intimacy, vulnerability, nurturing and care.
Anna Wehrwein (b. 1990 Albany, New York) lives and works in Columbia, MO. She received her BS in Art and BA in English/Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her MFA in Drawing and Painting from the University of Tennessee. Werhwein has had solo exhibitions at Blue Spiral I, Asheville, NC; Apothecary Gallery, Chattanooga, TN; and Ewing Gallery, Knoxville, TN. Her work has been featured in group exhibitions at Collar Works, Troy, NY; AUTOMAT Collective, Philadelphia, PA; The Warbling Collective, London, UK; and The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC among others. This is Wehrwein’s first show with Thierry Goldberg Gallery.