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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Rochester Creates: Anna Canfield

Rochester Creates: Anna Canfield

Much like herself, Anna Canfield's artwork is original, whimsical and always evolving. As she told us, “I like to be surprised by the outcome just as much as the person watching next to me." A 2007 graduate of Lourdes High School, Anna finds inspiration in observing the world around her — often combining realism with splashes of color and creativity. Unafraid to take on the mundane, she explores the familiar and finds beauty in what is otherwise ordinary. “Over the years my subject matter has been somewhat endless, but the unity that connects everything I do is a playfulness."

Anna will host her first solo exhibit this July at Gallery 24 in downtown Rochester. We recently had the opportunity to talk with her as part of a new series on the Med City Beat featuring rising local artists and creators. Below are some of the excerpts from that interview. 

What does your art say about you?

"Let me say this: I am pleased by the idea of a contradiction. I like contradictions the way other people like kittens; it pleases me. To me, I see contradiction as balance. In the creation of my work, I like to use this to my advantage with textures. In the inspiration of my work, I like to play with the idea that art can be literal and mundane, yet meaningful. The secret is, life is mundane — only a small fraction is remarkable. Therefore, the mundane is meaningful. So, while my subject matter is always changing, the consistent undertone is to provide a reminder of what's already there in front of you — and to show it to you in a new light.

The ideal takeaway is for people to gain a better appreciation of the silly, nonsensical, over-looked corners of our lives. I am not sure what all of this says about me — maybe just that I'm easily amused."

Moonlighting as an artist

"The wonderful thing about my full-time job [a certified histotechnologist in Mayo Clinic's frozen section pathology lab] is that it's so visual — I have the unique chance to see and help diagnose rare tumors every day, and also to take a very tangible piece of human tissue and turn it into a beautiful, translucent indigo-colored microscope slide in minutes. Unfortunately, access to the lab is pretty restricted, but I wish everyone could see the lab in action. If you can imagine, the other techs and I are all seated at a row of desktop machines, working in a smooth frenzy, a mechanical dance of sorts, as we try to supply the pathologist with all the information they need to make a diagnosis while the patient is still on the table.

So, during the day I am working with a very serious subject matter and a very different part of my brain. Then I come home and everything is pastels and pencils ... but I think having both of those two things together [work and art] actually helps keep me balanced."

Advice for other creators

"At this time in my career, my advice to other artists is to keep your head down and keep producing — build up your body of work. I find that the allure of social media and the limited gratification of sharing artwork only dulls creativity and fuels anxieties. When I do post artwork, I tend to post unfinished pieces because I like to keep people guessing. The final product reveal truly belongs to the new owner. 

I'd also add that a benefit of the art world is in its ambiguity — you can fear the unknown all you want, but finding your own way within it fulfills a child-like satisfaction like no other. Enjoy the discoveries and the failures."

Photography by William Forsman

Rochester Creates: Wyatt Moran

Rochester Creates: Wyatt Moran