Visual arts

Interview with Artist Ana Sneeringer

AUTHOR / Nejc Krevs

Ana Sneeringer is a Slovenian artist residing in Montgomery AL, USA. Having started her career in documentary journalism as the director of an environmental television station, Ana’s experiences across Jordan, Russia, the USA, The Dominican Republic, The Netherlands, and India led her to express her observations and experiences in her artwork. Women or the female presence form the epicenter of her artistic exploration and stories. Living around the world and engaging with women from different cultures, Ana’s encounters resonated with the emotions and experiences of women everywhere, rather than with disparities that might be related to race or color. As a result, her artistic canvas is a vivid, kaleidoscopic world of thoughts, emotions, and experiences shared by the modern woman. Entirely self-taught, Ana finds liberation in employing a sense of freedom and speaking from her heart, unconfined by a learned discipline. Whether in watercolor, acrylic, or digital media, she gives herself the freedom to experiment based on her subject matter.
Ana’s art has been exhibited internationally in the United Arab Emirates, Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, India, and Switzerland. One of her projects consisted of a collaboration with LIDL Slovenia and Europa Donna to raise awareness of breast cancer through her artwork. In 2020, one of her artworks was exhibited and is now part of the collection in one of India’s national museums.  

When did you decide for the path of an artist, and where does your inspiration come from?

The desire to create art was already present somewhere in my youth. I have always been attracted to art in all its forms, especially musical ones. A couple of years after moving out of Slovenia in 2010, I started painting. In 2011, I moved from Russia to the Dominican Republic. For the first time in my life, I bought painting materials, paints, and canvas, and painted an abstract painting of Santo Domingo, the capital city. You couldn’t tell it was a city but embedded in that expression was my inspiration, my emotions, how the city made me feel while I lived there. Even then, my inspiration was pretty much the same as it is today – my personal life and my attitude towards it. today Today, that painting is in a private collection in Lima, Peru.

You have lived all over the world. Where did you feel most at home, and where did your living space most inspire your art?

I think closest to the word “home” would be the last country I lived in – India. India also represented my most extended stay. The country itself had a significant impact on me as a woman. For over a decade, as you’ve already mentioned, I lived in various countries worldwide, which led me to explore, through my art, women’s presence as an essential role in the community. In India, I learned how women are crucial in supporting their households and communities in order to achieve food and nutrition security, generate income, and improve livelihoods and overall well-being in rural areas. In return for this self-explanatory obligation for a woman, there is no space in the country where women share or enjoy equality. Well, at least no equality as I knew it from my European upbringing; and that became a challenge for me, to start exploring the strength of a woman on a deeper level. Though I am very vocal about equality through my art, I focus on the pure role of a woman who simply and truly wants to be herself.

How would you describe your work whose focus is woman?

I paint bold female faces whose skin is colorless. Living around the world taught me some outstanding life lessons about women – behind the skin color. So, when you see my “white” portraits, you see the transparent color representing equality to me. I love using an almost dry brush while shading my subject’s cheeks, eyes, and neck. Those rough brushstrokes represent the toughness of their spirit. One of the most outstanding features in my paintings is a boldly pigmented circle eclipsing either the right or left cheek. The circle symbolizes unity, complete closure, and internal wholeness. To succeed in life – be happy, be a better person, etc. – one must look within. We can’t simply wait for someone to rescue us or do all the work. We can accomplish everything ourselves, but we must choose to act.

Where did you create most of your art? You say that the social environment has a big effect on your work. You mentioned India, and now you’re in the USA.

In India, definitely. I was very socially isolated in India. A lot of that was due to the pandemic, and a little due to a smaller circle of friends. The city of Hyderabad, where I lived, is so different in many respects, from the social to the architectural and cultural. Before the pandemic, I had a chance to meet some people and see some places to soak up all these experiences. But then the pandemic started in 2020, and for two years we were simply on our own. In the first year of the pandemic, we had zero social outings, which made me an introvert who started looking for inspiration in myself. And when things in India got a little better, I was able to hold a solo exhibition in the city before they locked us down in our homes again. After a year of on-and-off social life, I moved to the USA, and now I will see how my art grows and changes.

What, in your opinion, is a good exhibition, and what a good exhibition piece?

A good exhibition is an exhibition where you leave people in awe, where they have to speak to you to understand why you present the art you do to them. It’s always awkward when people remain quiet while looking at your art. It’s not that they don’t like it (or maybe they don’t) but it’s mostly because they don’t know how to speak to you about it. As to what makes a piece of art great – well, it’s art that speaks to me on deeper level. It really has to make a connection with me – visual and emotional. I’ve never been someone who likes what everybody else likes. Take Jeff Koons, I think his art is great, but would I ever own his work? No. Also Basquiat. Or Warhol. I love to see and enjoy all this art, but my tastes run different. I need a good piece of art that I will understand in my own personal way.

Who would you say your work speaks most to? What is the main motivation behind your work?

My art is for people who dare to be themselves. That’s what my art is about. It depicts a bold, strong female figure reminding you not to forget to be yourself. Most of my women seem to be an embodiment on canvas of the phrase “carpe diem”. They make the most of life, but many other viewers see them quite differently. But then we both must agree the beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Ultimately, we only have one life, so we should live it on our terms. Since I started promoting my work, exposing my art to an audience, and selling my art, I’ve noticed that the words and comments of my collectors and supporters have significantly impacted my life and the changes its undergone. But more than that, I see a powerful personal distinction and growth in women who have interacted with me through my work, by owning a piece or being engaged in viewing the work. Nevertheless, I have also gained some male collectors that love my art.

What about challenges in the future? Where will your next exhibition be?

Good question! I just moved to the USA, and I’ve landed a group show in the city where I live, in Alabama, and have gallery representation in Arkansas, and online gallery representation from Vienna, Austria. But honestly, I don’t yet know where I should exhibit next, because life has many sweet challenges and paths to explore, apart from my world of art. There is a plan to participate in early 2023 at an art fair in Savannah, Georgia, USA, but I don’t know. I’ll let it happen how it happens. I work hard to make things happen, and I’m always open to changes and new opportunities. I try to live for today. So, let’s see what the future brings.