Latina artist creates work on unique canvas

Annie Lopez defies stereotypes with her contemporary artwork.

Among the canvases she uses: tamale paper. She prints photos text on the colorful paper and then sews the material into dresses.

In 2012, Lopez won the mid-career award from the contemporary forum at the Phoenix Art Museum.

Her idea for an exhibit was born from personal experience. Lopez, dealing with family and personal issues told the museum curator at the time Sara Cochran, “Someday I’m going to sew all my troubles into a dress.” Cochran said ‘Do it,’ Lopez explained.

The dresses contain a mixture of text and family photos and were first showcased in the museum in 2013.

Now she shares her insight and techniques with budding artists including children who attend workshops at the museum.

Lopez’ current exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum “The Almost Real History of Art in Phoenix” uses forgotten family photos she find at thrift, antique stores and estate sales combined with humorous captions she writes.

The exhibit is scheduled to run through the end of the year. Though she has found success, in the past Lopez has struggled because her art defies categories.

“My artwork was rejected from a show because it was not Chicano enough and in another place it was rejected for being too Chicano, so I couldn’t quite figure out what it is I’m supposed to be.”