Ani Rosskam – Roosevelt, New Jersey

1471828_10200840745086888_1584435896_nBriefly describe the work you do.
I would consider myself a mixed media artist. I am always coming across and dazzled by juxtapositions of incongruous objects and materials. Making order and sense out of them is something that evolves as I work, and as the process of painting or assembleing leads me into unknown territories of texture and abstraction. Itʼs a little like free associating with physical material.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

I grew up in Roosevelt NJ a community of friends and neighbors that moved here to be part of the agro industrial project the town was built for, along with artists writers musicians and photographers . My parents, both pioneer documentary photographers, came at the urging of their friend Ben Shahn. It was second nature for me to make art
as it was such a normal occurrence by my parents and their friends. My upbringing influenced my world view more than it it did my art. My real influences came after I left and entered the bigger world.

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 he same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

My studio is the place I feel the most at home in. I wouldnʼt consider what I do in it “toiling away alone in a room” although I really cant work in it with other people around or many interruptions as I believe in order to achieve anything
meaningful I need to be by myself. It is the “area” in my life that provides a place to loose a sense of time, and get involved in the process of making art, either physically or


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.

My life as an artist is parallel to anyoneʼs life that is forever changing. I have entered many worlds that I would not have had an opportunity to experience if it not for being an artist. In a search of ways to survive as an artist, I found work in Architecture, Design, Theatre and Teaching. Each contributing to a more mature voice as an artist.

1499612_10201017373782495_1780364057_nWhen 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 love working at night, but The reality is that at this point in my life, I will take any opportunity to get into my studio. The clock is ticking.

How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?

I think my work now has become more about the process and the abstraction of elements than it has in the past. It is not so much about an internal narrative as it is about a personal vocabulary of texture and images that evoke a ore universal association.

Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?

Actually there are too many to mention as I admire all kinds of people and characters. There really isnʼt a single person or category.

If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?

I cant imagine what that would be. Its not really a choice. There are lots of other things I’d like to do as well,and have,but in my opinion you really cant be someone else unless your willing to put in the work.


419439_2719168824380_872368465_nAni Rosskam was born in Puerto Rico and came to Roosevelt, a New Deal town, with her artist/photographer parents, Edwin and Louise.

She also grew up among other artists. She then attended Solebury School in New Hope, received a BA from the Tyler School of Art in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, and moved to Boston.

She attended Les E’coles des Artes in Fountainbleu France, Tanglewood Program in Massachusetts and Skowhegan School in Maine where she met her husband, Bill Leech. She says he is a great painter. He’s a Midwestern, with a dry wit, hysterically funny. and a love for the big sky’s. They decided to move to the New York City area, and like many of the Roosevelt artists before them found that the location provided the opportunity to work in one of the world’s major urban centers as well as live in a rural small town.

Rosskam and her husband work on commercial artistic projects together and through their company, Rosskam & Leech Mural and Blani Image Makers, have worked on projects with Architects and Designers including Michael Graves.

The commercial work includes commissions and historic restoration for individuals and public entities. Among their clients are the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services — for the State House and the State House Annex She did work for Robert Mapplethorpe. custom stenciling for Mike Nichols, Diane Sawyer. She does color consulting. designs and paints murals and surface design, renderings, and (architecture) models, and textile design.

Rosskam says, “When young, Everyone tries on different hats. You have your influences. And it’s a process of elimination until you find our own (voice). Living among artists, I saw people who had gone through the process. For me it was a struggle, but I saw it as normal. Most people take a real risk to leave familiarity, to become an artist. Rosskam had the opposite experience and had to figure out ways to survive outside an artistic community.

Ani still works as a multi media artist and continues to create and exhibit her own work.


All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 

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