About the Artist
Born in Barre Massachusetts, interdisciplinary sculptor and painter Annie Varnot has served as a visiting fellow at numerous foundations including Jentel in Wyoming, La Napoule Art Foundation in France, Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in Nova Scotia, the Islip Art Museum in New York, and Weir Farm in Connecticut. She has been the recipient of several grants including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. Ms. Varnot’s drawings may be viewed at Pierogi 2000 in Brooklyn, NY. She is a select member of the Drawing Center Viewing Program. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Adelman Fine Art is pleased to represent Annie Varnot and share her talent with collectors worldwide.
AFA: If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing, what would it be?
AFA: What was the worst job you’ve ever had?
AV: “I’ve had a ton of jobs, including cord wood stacker, lawn mower, gardener, house cleaner, dishwasher, bagel server, restaurant bus person, prep cook, cafeteria server, cafeteria dirty tray receiver, ski resort nacho server, artist assistant, picture framer, teacher, graphic designer, scenic painter, scenic carpenter, scenic sculptor, ceramicist, coder, ice cream server, pizza shop assistant, house painter, art handler, museum mount maker, and poster sales roadie. I would say out of the hundreds of jobs I have had, my least favorite was filing papers in an office because I would get bored. I didn’t understand the nuances of filing so I felt very inefficient.”
AFA: What is the most embarrassing fashion trend you used to rock?
AV: “Big, high 80s bangs that I paired with pin-striped baggy jeans tucked into my socks.”
AFA: What is your best scar story?
AV: “My best friend in junior high and I went up to visit her cousins’ farm in Vermont. We pretended we didn’t feel well on Sunday morning, and when everyone left for church, Jenny and I snuck into the barn and pulled out the ATV. The rule at the farm was that only the boys were allowed to ride it, so we decided to take it out for a ride while everyone was gone. When it was my turn to drive, Jenny moved to the back of the vehicle as I drove. Driving was exhilarating and I admit, I got a little sassy. As I was going fast down a dirt road, I couldn’t downshift gears and we flew down the hill. Unable to stop and make the approaching sharp left turn, I drove through the barbed wire fence on the other side of the intersection. We landed in a swamp with the ATV on top of me. Jenny kept screaming “Get up!” but I couldn’t move. Finally Jenny lugged the ATV off of my body and helped me to my feet. Dirty and hobbling, we pushed the ATV up to the high hermit on the hill to see if he could fix it as it didn’t run after the accident. He couldn’t, so we cleaned it up and rolled it back into the barn. My sweatshirt was torn and I thought it looked cool, but my side was aching. Jenny insisted we keep the accident secret, so I didn’t go to the doctor. I have a six-inch scar around my right rib case from where the barbed wire wrapped around my chest.”
AFA: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
AV: “A gymnast by day and a truck driver by night.”
ABOUT THE PCT HIKE
AFA: What was the scariest thing you encountered on your PCT hike?
AV: “I wanted to keep a continuous, north-bound trajectory, but in 2017 the Sierra Mountains had one of its snowiest winters on record. This meant that on June 15, when entering the Sierra mountain range, I was going to be faced with one of the largest snowmelts in history. The trail was covered in snow, so I had to rely solely on GPS for navigation. Ascending passes was dangerous and a lot of people bailed or skipped north.
I decided to go for it and teamed up with other hikers. Fording the rivers in the Sierras was by far the scariest thing I encountered throughout my trek. Sometimes the rivers were up to my chest and the current was impossible to get across without help. You can read about one of the more challenging river crossings on my blog here and here.”
AFA: Tell us about the art you did while on the trail?
AV: “Packed amid Ziploc bags of nuts and filthy socks, I carried watercolors and a digital camera to document my exploration into twin wildernesses: the American West and my own psyche.
My watercolor set included just three colors (gold, quinacridone violet, and ultramarine blue), one small refillable watercolor brush pen, and a 3”x5″ Moleskin watercolor pad. While in the Sierra Mountains, somewhere between Forester Pass and my resupply point in Independence, CA, I lost my watercolor pad and all of the watercolors I had made during the first 900 miles of the trail. I was super upset about the loss, however, during that time, I had been making my way through the Sierras, with all the snow and high levels of snow melt. It was very dangerous journey and required all of my focus.
By the time I concluded my hike, I had in hand numerous trail maps, photographs, memories, journal entries, and in-depth correspondence. These collected works inspired me to begin a series of oil paintings that, when completed, will offer a singular kind of Baedeker, updated for the 21st century, with a special focus on my six-month emotional and physical odyssey.”
AFA: What was the most memorable positive thing you encountered on your PCT hike?
AV: “Before doing the hike, I hoped that I would have a transformative shift in consciousness, but I didn’t know if it would happen or what it would look like. I have read quite a lot about Buddhist ideas of selflessness and its link to egolessness in Western psychology, but my head couldn’t quite wrap itself around these ideas. After months on the trail, as language evaporated, thoughts no longer required articulation with words. At moments, I began to experience egolessness, and with this lack of separation between myself and my surroundings, I felt complete. It was sublime, and beautiful, and ironically, I mourned every step I took in this state of oneness, for I was so grateful for that moment in that step and for the connectivity I sensed with the universe. Now, I am thankful I had that experience. Even though I don’t feel safe to cultivate that interconnectivity in New York City, I have a new awareness, and through this awareness I feel like the meaning of life has been answered for me. My hike gave me a taste of my true nature and what it feels like to be simultaneously small and large.”
AFA: What was the most important tool/instrument for you on the trail?
AV: “Guthook’s Pacific Crest Trail iPhone App and the my men’s size 9.5 wide Merrill Moab Ventilators.”
AFA: What is your next big hiking goal?
AV: “Thru-Hiking the Continental Divide Trail (possibly in 2019).”
AFA: Do you have a digital storyline already created for your PCT hike?
AV: Yes, I do! I consistently blogged about my hike on the PCT and you can follow my story HERE
“My artistic aim is to complete a series of oil paintings that, together, create an atlas of the emotional and physical landscapes I traveled alone last year, when I hiked 2,663 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. The work provided is the beginning of this exploration.
This journey lasted from April to September. I lacked cellphone reception and access to the Internet on the way north, and their absence left me ample time to think and to enjoy my solitude. But solitude can also be a danger—for me, anyway. I knew I might fall prey to debilitating isolation and loneliness on the PCT. I knew I would soon hunger for conversation and human interaction. To prevent that from happening, I devised a plan to carry on an alternative, non-traditional kind of conversation. I expressed my thoughts and ideas on 8 1/2 x 11” color-printed topographical maps. When I stopped in the desert town of Warner Springs, California at mile 110, Kennedy Meadows at mile 703, Trout Lake, Washington at mile 2,234 and elsewhere, I would send these missives to people with meaningful roles in my life. They, in turn, sent me parallel maps of their respective thoughts and day.
Packed amid Ziplock bags of nuts and filthy socks, I carried watercolors and a digital camera to further document my exploration into twin wilderness: of the Western United States and into my own psyche. By the time I concluded my hike, I had in hand a series of trail maps, watercolor studies, journal entries, and in-depth correspondence. These collected works inspired me to begin a series of oil paintings that, when completed, will offer a singular kind of Baedeker, updated for the 21st century, and homing in specifically on my six-month emotional and physical odyssey.” ~ Annie Varnot