In a divine rogue’s gallery of women (and a few men), painter Annie Terrazzo portrays individual but stylized souls, passionately and precisely rendered avatars for states of consciousness from the ecstatic to the injured, headstrong and hopeful. Her female figures are getting comfortable with the joys and consequences of their own agency and sexuality — beautiful but also self-aware threats to the status quo. All of this plays out across foundational mixed media collage backgrounds culled from newspapers, magazines and other pop culture detritus, the better to contextualize our existential malaise across the gendered cultural continuum and offer a critique of the dynamics of headlines, clickbait and social media dysfunction. Her new collection “Coup de Coquette” is on view by appointment through June 30 in Santa Monica.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
ANNIE TERRAZZO: I always had an obvious need to be creative. As a kid I loved to make latex bondage outfits for my Ken dolls out of electrical tape. I also loved to make my own games, films, write books and dress up like Thomas Jefferson. When art found me, in high school, I was instantly compelled to become an artist and explore that world, but I really had no idea what that meant. Are you an artist just because you pick up a pencil or a brush? I remember the first time I told someone that I was an artist, and in the back of my mind I was all like, “really?” As other people started introducing me as an artist, I think I started to accept that I was more and more.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
I coined the phrase “mixed media trash portraiture” to get through that one. Mostly people, mostly paper trash.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I flirted with acting on the stage briefly, and if that wasn’t such a soul crushing existence maybe I’d have pursued it further. I also always secretly wanted to be a war correspondent.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
I attended the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I can’t say I did very well. I think it was at a time when I was being asked to find myself and all I wanted was to be anybody else. But I did get an associates degree in graphic design which helped me get artsy-type jobs while I figured everything else out.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
Actually, I like to work all over the place. I’ve had studios in London, Auckland, Shreveport, Vancouver and New York. I’ve found papers from vendors on the Seine in Paris and basement hoarders in Hamilton, Ontario!
When was your first show?
I got the chance to exhibit in the lobby of Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre in North Hollywood in the early 2000s. Zombie Joe was really cool and let me just put whatever had up on the walls for probably a year or two. I did some crazy stuff back them. Lots of broken glass and garbage. I remember one piece in particular that I had someone drive their car over it repeatedly and then hung it up. It was great as it was a totally free space for me to share anything. I even sold a bunch of them there, and I can imagine that all of those pieces have fallen apart by now.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show?
I have a solo entitled “Coup de Coquette” in Santa Monica, with 10 new works which opened May 31st and [is] on view till the end of June.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show with?
It’s incredible for me to think that my art has hung next to Chuck Close, Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst — but if I had to pick an artist it would be the female artists that inspire me in my community. There are a lot of great artists out there, but the women that are living and working in Southern California right now are the women that inspire me.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so what?
I like to listen to music when I work, and the music has to directly reflect the piece I’m working on, or be exactly the opposite of what I’m trying to create. One show I did was all about Pin Ups and I listened to only gangsta rap!
Website and social media handles, please!
1712 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica; through June 30 by appointment, text (310) 488-8043.