For Annie Lopez, creating art is a way to neutralize her inner demons. Call it art as exorcism. “If something bad is going on, I put it in my artwork, hang it on the wall and release it,” says Lopez, who took solace in her craft after the death of her first son. “It lightens my burden.”
Her preferred medium: dresses. Lopez uses a photographic printing process to create somewhat wearable versions of cyanotypes, or blueprints. Scrawled with words, doodles and confessional scratch, the dresses are showcased on mannequins like prêt-à-porter sculptures.
Recipient of the Contemporary Forum’s Mid-Career Artist Award at the Phoenix Art Museum, Lopez created more than 11 distinct dresses for her affiliated show, using pattern styles from the 1950s through the 1970s. All are autobiographical works, windows into her inner world. For instance, “Bully Dress” was inspired by messages she received from family members while caring for her Alzheimer’s-stricken father, and “Dad’s Dress” shows successive generations of his signature as it degraded over time.
Though she grew up in a drawing-adept family, Lopez, 54, found creativity though a camera lens. She worked for MARS Artspace, a Phoenix co-op, for 17 years, honing her art as she traveled the country and gathered life experiences. Naturally, her Phoenix Art Museum exhibit is a point of pride. “This is my home town museum,” Lopez says. “It is a really big thing to me.” Her solo, self-titled show runs through June. For information, visit phxart.org/exhibition/annielopez.