Today we’d like to introduce you to E. K. Anna (EKAH) Hennequet.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I was exposed to art at a young age through my mother, who is a classically-trained realist painter and often painted around the house. I used to draw or sit for her as a model and was also one of her students when she taught summer art workshops to young children.
My family immigrated to the U.S. from South Korea when I was still in Elementary School. Although I have always felt that I didn’t quite belong, even as a child in Korea, I struggled even more to fit in as an immigrant. I learned to cope with culture shock and puberty all at the same time. I wanted to escape my neighborhood school in Queens, New York, so I applied and got accepted to the High School of Art & Design in New York City, an art magnet school which required a portfolio and an interview. Apart from The School of Performing Arts, there was nothing like it at the time. The school was racially diverse and consisted mostly of students who were talented, serial doodlers and didn’t quite fit in at a normal High School. It was a haven for those who may have otherwise experienced bullying and being labeled as outcasts in their neighborhood schools.
My professional and personal life took a long-winded road. I studied graphic design at Parsons School of Design in New York City and later worked in advertising, broadcast animation, and video games. Because my background is primarily in commercial art, I never really thought of doing art for art’s sake until recently. This may be the reason why I still don’t wear the artist label comfortably. I have finally come around and accepted the label, albeit reluctantly. My spouse played an important role, providing me with emotional support and constant encouragement to pursue this thing called art.
Please tell us about your art.
I recreate worlds and characters that reside in my head to tell visual stories. The worlds may be surreal, absurd, and nonsensical, and they may be as big as the universe or as small as a petri dish. Their inhabitants may be humans, animals, machines, microbes, hybrids, and creatures of all sorts. I let the subject matter determine the medium and style and do not subscribe to any artistic dogma. I work with both wet and dry media as well as digital. The final piece may be an illustration, painting, mural, animation, or interactive media such as a lenticular print or 360 animation.
There are recurring themes in my work. I hope to tell visual stories about our inner child and subconscious selves that we either suppress or have forgotten about, as well as about otherworldly beings who I imagine have their own set of issues. I draw inspiration from my own childhood memories, as well as life’s difficulties such as rejections, fears, regrets, disillusionments, and loss. I try to find humor, and even beauty, to portray these sentiments without too much dread or gravity.
The three themes I keep going back to are titled The City of Lost Animals, This Thing Called Life, and Micro-Space Oddity. My work is not limited to these themes, but I am always drawn to topics relating to them. It is my hope that viewers will connect with the characters and the worlds, even if the character may be a limbless grub.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
Artists have fewer and fewer hours to create art and are pressured to devote more time to marketing and sales. Apart from the nationally or internationally-celebrated artists, having a presence online as an artist is like being a needle in a haystack. Although it is easy to put up one’s work online, standing out and getting noticed is another story.
I was fortunate enough to have folks from organizations like 40 North – the Champaign County Arts Council, Imbibe Urbana, and the Urbana Public Arts Program notice my work when I debuted locally a couple of years ago. Funding for the arts, however, is scarce. I am a big proponent of public art, but the funds are quite limited. An artist friend once said, “You can’t eat exposure.” I couldn’t agree more. When I was living in Montreal, Canada, I saw many publicly-funded programs that support artists. The most notable is the National Film Board of Canada, who helps fund countless projects for filmmakers and animators on an on-going basis. I believe programs like NFB create a healthy environment for the artists and encourage originality and content that is not driven by homogenized micro-communities in the online art world or organizations with specific agendas.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
You can view my work on my website and I occasionally make appearances at art festivals such as The Made Fest at Pygmalion Festival happening in Champaign-Urbana – September 28 -29, 2018. People can also follow me either on Instagram and/or on Facebook where I share work-in-progress images and videos.
- Website: https://www.steampunkgrub.com/
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/steampunkgrub/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SteampunkGrub/
Personal image of artist: Kelly White / 40 North
All other images: EKAH