Ann Wood has spent most of her life arranging and curating her many collections. When she was only 12 years old, her mom painted her bedroom floor to ceiling with a bright white paint, handed Ann her own set of paints and told her to create what she wanted to see on the walls. Each weekend, Ann would spend hours lining her shelving unit with painted flowers, and she would paint birds on the ceiling and animals and figures all over the walls of the room. “That really gave me permission to think big,” Ann says. “For your mom to let you paint on the walls was the ultimate freedom, and the ultimate confidence that you would do something marvelous.”
Ann has not stopped collecting, curating, or arranging since then. Quite the opposite, as she’s made the art of collecting her life’s work. Ann grew up on a farm in Iowa, surrounded by nature, plants and gardens. She now sees her Minnesota backyard garden as an extension of her grouped collections, for which she has many. She collects everything from Italian glass ornaments to vintage coats to miniature ceramics. Each spring her garden space takes on a new form of collecting and arranging, where she spends time reconfiguring this living collection. Much like what she does in her own art work, she studies one plant at a time, understanding its properties fully and then moving onto a new specimen. It’s this dissection that Ann uses to recreate her work in paper, to make it the most accurate collection possible. “I’m an intense observer of forms,” Ann adds.
From her Minneapolis studio, she’s built a stunning display of work that she hopes to see hang in a museum one day. It’s not a collection that she wants to sit in a private home, but rather be shared with lots of people and is currently searching for it to land in the right public place. “I wanted something more connective, to connect outward to a wide range of people,” Ann shares. “Seeing my dad’s response to plants showed me that there is a vehicle that I can really get on and feel that connection to people that might not normally connect to art. But gardening — people love gardening. So that’s where I really started with the whole idea. I thought, I’m going to try making plants and I’m going to share them on Instagram and see what happens. With the daily build-up of sharing pictures of my work, it’s spurred me on to keep exploring and refining this desire.”
Looking at collecting as a form of curation, Ann displays her work loosely on the wall or in a bowl, or even in scientific specimen boxes, each piece very delicate and meticulously worked on for days or weeks, to ensure it’s replicated exactly and correctly. All lined up together on one wall, you get intricate details, paper fiber bits, and hand painted lines, giving you a different perspective whether you are close up or standing back away from her work — almost like a three-dimensional wallpaper. “To me, I like collections to have a purpose and be useful,” Ann says. “And make me feel good about the space that I live in.”
I think Ann has such a beautiful aesthetic balance of collecting and arranging — and we are thrilled to kick off our new series, The Art of Collecting, with her immensely breathtaking collection. —Erin
Photography by Ann Wood of Woodlucker