Briefly describe the work you do.
2013 was spent cutting dragon thoughts out of paper, traveling to outer space to capture the culture there, messing with shadow puppetry and regularly appearing at many Milwaukee locations as “La Prosette,” a public therapy service where I type on-demand orders for love letters, poetry, pet greetings, poetry, stories, letters of recommendation and more for clients from my typewriter. This year I’m participating in more collaborative projects… and mystery.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
Much of what I’ve been taught as an artist can be traced to my mother. My mom was an elementary school art teacher and filmmaker. She quit those things after I was born to take my brother and me on as her full time students. We were always drawing from life at the zoo, festivals, concerts, and attending art shows as a family. To this day I delude myself into thinking of Dali as my other father, the man whose picture I talk to when I have an art problem.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I work mostly from home, but I also have a studio in downtown Milwaukee where I can make stuff in private. I find inventing my work in front of a live audience the most invigorating way to make stuff. I have two kinds of work: the work I carefully make in private and later fling on an unsuspecting audience, and the work I happily slop together for a line of customers in a public space.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
Good art is divine. It is always smarter than the artist and comes from somewhere else to heal both the artist and the viewer. When I was younger I didn’t think my role was to be an accidental wisdom conduit, but now I certainly do. The more art I make, the more I feel it heals all who have anything to do with it.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
I’ve given up most of my adult independence to make my art all day. I currently live with my parents in the middle of suburban nowhere without a car; but I also have the art & writing portfolios to show for it. At this phase of my life I think about sculptor Mary Nohl who was able to create all day because of her parents. My brain is constantly winding around projects I’ve got to manifest, but at 10PM I get an urge to dance really hard for about eighteen minutes and that is all I care about.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
None of the mediums I am currently working in existed in my life five years ago. Back then I was re-writing the Odyssey, book binding, crocheting hats, serving as a puppetry intern and a college printmaking student. If I could be told now the projects I’ll have in 2019, I’d want to change my plans, because I prefer surprises. Only my approach of surprises and improvisational creation remains constant in my practice.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
I have to be as flexible as a melting clock because I’ve taken Dali as my father, but maybe I’m wrong and it was actually Cocteau or John Cage. Maira Kalman is my long lost aunt who I was never told about till I was 23 or so. I am still trying to figure out exactly how I am related to that muppet named ‘Animal,’ Lotte Rieniger, Roz Chast and my favorite living artist, NINA KATCHADOURIAN.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
If I weren’t an artist of some variety I would have the occupation of a 10 x 10 foot (or smaller) cell somewhere if I would be alive at all. Deeeeee end.
Anja Notanja Sieger received her BFA in printmaking and creative writing from Kansas City Art Institute in 2009. After graduation she worked for a year building puppets at Paul Mesner Puppets in Kansas City. Her live stories have won Milwaukee area slams held by Ex Fabula and the Pfister Hotel. She served as an arts administration protégée for the Milwaukee Artist’s Resource Network’s 2011-12 season. Her performance writing art service “La Prosette” has been featured on the front page of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, USA Today Online, MSN Hotmail News and Yahoo News. Sieger has written about art online for All Creativelike, Library As Incubator and the Cowbird Daily Story. She is currently an artist-in-resident at In Tandem Theatre and a writer-in-residence at Renaissance Theaterworks, Milwaukee. Milwaukee’s Tenth Street Gallery, Narthex Gallery and Gallery 2622 all hosted varied solo shows of Sieger’s work in 2013.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.