If you look for Deanna Antony, you’ll likely find her inside her new studio in Astoria Visual Arts — spending hours sorting through fabric, painting, sketching or creating three-dimensional sculptures.
Antony is Astoria Visual Arts’ newest artist-in-residence. She started her residency in November.
As a multi-disciplinary artist, Antony has a portfolio that includes creations like paintings, drawings and “soft” sculptures — sculptures made of fabric she has found from places like thrift stores or her home.
“I just go for what I’m drawn to. I’m an avid thrift store shopper. I started going to thrift stores in Madison and I found this place called the Dig & Save where you can dig through these bins and buy fabric by the pound, so I would fill a whole shopping cart,” Antony said.
Antony trained at the University of Wisconsin for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. In May, she received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin Madison and shortly after relocated to the Pacific Northwest.
Antony’s sculptures work in direct relationship to the human body. She uses textiles to arouse emotions and familiar feelings in her viewers. One of the pieces she is crafting in her new studio incorporates fabrics from an old dress shirt of hers and a terry cloth towel.
“It’s made from a dress shirt that I would wear but never really felt good in, but I liked the fabric,” Antony said. “And then there’s a terry cloth towel. I’ve put these together to evoke the feelings you can imagine on your skin, directly under your arm and these personal places on a body.”
Her love of textiles comes from their ability to evoke emotions and memories.
“Textiles hold so much. They can signify something with their color and texture. They can bring you to a certain time and they can make you think of a place or a person,” she said. “So our relationship with textiles is so rich. I absolutely love working with that material.”
Antony’s studio is covered in scraps of loose fabric and random drawings on a recent day as she just finished a piece, “Homer in the Bushes,” that is part of a group show at Cambium Gallery. She was able to find the fabric for the piece at an antique store in Seaside during her first few weeks living on the North Coast.
“I’m having the fabric enter this work as a framing,” Antony said. “This piece has its own voluminous fabric that frames the painting in a certain way. They’re interacting together in one space. It’s 2D and 3D, and it’s evoking different things.”
“The first time I saw Deanna’s work I was really floored. (Her pieces) are so out of the box and original,” said Annie Eskelin, executive director of Astoria Visual Arts.
Astoria Visual Arts’ artist-in-residence program is entering its sixth year. Astoria Visual Arts is a membership organization that gets funding through community donations.
“It’s a huge benefit for up and coming artists that leads to a whole sphere of opportunities,” Eskelin said. “This program is a fantastic way to support people in their professional growth.”
Antony, whose residency runs through May, said having the residency space to work has been imperative to her growth as an artist.
“I’m so grateful to be here,” Antony said of the residency. “It’s a sacred space where I can kind of be a mad scientist sometimes. I’m doing experiments, finding data and seeing what the results are, and then it plays into the next thing.”
When she’s not at the studio, you can find Antony at Seaside Coffee Roasters, spending time with her family or exploring her new coastal surroundings.
“I never really saw the ocean before (living in Seaside). I feel like the ocean was my studio space when I first got here,” she said. “I would go and do watercolors and drawings and just listen to that white noise. I feel like within me there’s this transformation happening from moving so close to the sea.”