Boxes line the walls and the shelves sit empty as Anne J. Steves sits down to talk.
Steves is the new artist-in-residence at the Ranger Station Art Gallery. She arrived just a few days prior to meeting up with The Observer, and paused from her unpacking to share a bit about who she is and what inspires her.
“I use textiles, but wouldn’t call myself a textile artist,” Steves tries to explain.
Steves started her artistic creations using more traditional artistry forms of painting and drawing. But while working on her masters’ degree at the University of Victoria, primarily painting, she found she wasn’t happy with her work.
“I tore it up,” Steves explains, to see what interesting things she could create with the broken pieces.
Steves’ sister had bought her a sewing machine – “she was tired of making all my curtains” – so Steves decided to try sewing the pieces together. It worked, and she hasn’t looked back since.
She now blends different materials, uses drawing, painting, sewing – whatever methods inspire her and work to create the pieces. When she says she’s not a textile artist, it’s because she has found most self-labeled textile artists come from a disciplined background. For Steves, it was the simple memory of crocheting when she was 7, or sewing when she was 13, and kind of winging it to figure out what worked for her artistic needs.
Steves is inspired by “people, place, architecture and storytelling,” and hopes to incorporate local stories, memories and fabrics into her works. During her time in Harrison, Steves plans to keep her ears open and her fingers searching for fabrics to tell stories. Whether they be interesting textures or designs found in pieces at the thrift store, or from donated fabrics. If you have some interesting fabric to donate, Steves would love to either listen to your stories surrounding that material and work to create something from it, or to imbue her own storytelling on the materials.
There’s a uniqueness about fabric not found in other materials, Steves reflects. It’s tactile. People feel the urge to touch it, to finger it and be connected to it in ways not found with other mediums. To that end, Steves plans to incorporate tactile experience to allow for interaction between audience and art in her solo show scheduled for next June.
Steves is from Wales, moving to Canada with her family when she was 17 years old. She has lived mostly in the Vancouver area, but has also spent time in Victoria and even in Hope. She says she has kept her eye on the artist space in Harrison, knowing it would be a perfect fit for her artistry and interest in small communities.
“It’s an interesting place to do what I’m doing,” says Steves.
Steves plans to take some of her pieces to work on around town. So if you see her sitting on a park bench, she invites you to sit down with her and have a chat and share about yourself as Steves learns about the people and places that make this such a special corner of the world.