Updated: Nov 3, 2022
Works by Annie Arnold
October 7-October 30, 2022
Visit Fort Worth Gallery
Hand-me-downs is an exhibition satirizing the normalization of the narcissistic narrative. By definition, hand-me-downs are “things, especially clothes, which have been used by someone else before you and have been given to you for your use.” As the title suggests, I am interested in the possibility that the found text embroidered on the works in this show, can be read as wisdom and/or advice, given to you for your use, especially as it relates to self-expression in pursuit of social currency.
As an artist, my work draws parallels between handiwork and social media. I use humor and the iterative processes of the leisure arts to consider questions about influencer culture, labor versus leisure activities, time invested versus meaningful output, and how empathy and envy drive social behavior. I am bemused by both personal and cultural acts of narcissism, and I use production as a tool for reflection and exchange. Many of the works in the exhibition are from my ongoing series “How can we get noticed if we are all doing the same thing?” This series consists of works on raw, unstretched, and patchworked canvas, hand-embroidered with borrowed text. My canvases are often large and loosely draped on the wall and include life-size elements from trophy wearables, such as letter jacket trim and sleeves, and pockets and handles from tote bags. These additions suggest abstracted garments, signaling the presence of the body and emphasizing concepts of identity and personhood.
Additionally, many of the works in this show are appliquéd with embroidered patches I design from pictures posted to social media. I am currently designing and producing this ongoing series of merit badges which depict familiar tropes of people engaging in “aspirational” behaviors as dictated by influencer culture. These patches humorously challenge the acceptance of narcissism and bragging as “content”, scrutinize definitions of novelty, and serve as a critique on “sameness”—the over-simplified, particularized world fed to us by the internet and its algorithms.
Annie Arnold is a visual artist bemused by the social and cultural phenomena of narcissism. Favoring iterative craft techniques, such as needlepoint and crochet, she makes art both as a distraction from and a reference to social media. Her work explores our attempts to offset the shame of being ordinary and highlights the staggering amounts of time we dedicate to thinking and talking about ourselves. She earned her BA in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin, and her MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of North Texas, College of Art and Design, Denton, TX.
Arnold has participated in exhibitions at The Contemporary Austin; New American Paintings, exhibition-in-print; grayDUCK Gallery, Austin; the Visual Arts Center, Austin; and the Salina Arts Center, Salina, KS; among others. She has been curated into group shows by curators: Jennie Goldstein, Whitney Museum of American Art; Andrea Karnes, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Suzanne Weaver, San Antonio Museum of Art; Christina Rees, former Editor-in-Chief of Glasstire.com; and most recently, Tyler Blackwell, Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY. Arnold is also a recent alum of The Contemporary Austin’s Crit Group program. In 2012, her project Needed Fabulousness took her to New York Fashion Week wearing a dress she printed herself. Arnold currently lives and works in Austin, TX.