Anna Weyant isn’t even close to 30-years-old yet but you would never be able to tell from her paintings. At a quick glance from a distance, you may even confuse Weyant’s portraits with some from the 17th century, maybe a Judith Leyster or even a Gerard van Honthorst. But then you zoom in a little bit and see, for example, a “ride or die” chain on one of the adolescent subjects.
Though her grasp of the Dutch Masters is clear, you always have to give her paintings a second, third, or fourth look to see if maybe, somewhere in the background, someone is rolling up a different kind of Dutch Master.
Youthful rebellion abounds on her canvases, each piece depicting its fair share of mischief or playfulness. Sometimes, there is even implied danger, just out of view. No matter the subject, there is always a greater story being told, something we aren’t privy to. Weyant leaves us wanting more, asking questions, making assumptions. And she seems to have so much fun doing so.
Born in Calgary, schooled in The Ocean State at RISD, and refined in New York City, Anna Weyant has appeared in shows from Long Island to LA, from Southhampton to Singapore, truly a rising star in the art world. While her work has strokes of subtle humor, she’s making a serious impact in the field, and we are ecstatic to work with Weyant on her very first piece of wearable art.
One of the four artists featured in The Hundreds Artist Series Bandanas capsule, Anna Weyant was gracious enough to design something from scratch for the project, and she executed it on a level we couldn’t have ever expected.
Like much of her painted works, it may take you a few glances to fully grasp the narrative of the piece. From a distance, the Bandana appears to feature a golden rope, tied neatly into a bow. But closer examination shows that the rope is actually a snake. Further investigation reveals that you may not have to worry too much about getting bitten, as the snake has just eaten. But unfortunately for us, the snake’s snack was our dear friend Adam Bomb, burning wick and all. And you thought Adam had a worried look on his face before…
I caught up with Anna over email in anticipation of the Artist Series Bandanas release to find out how the pandemic has affected her process and what it was like making art that isn’t designed to be hung in a gallery — though this piece would totally work there, too.
DUKE LONDON: I wanted to kick it off by asking how you were introduced to The Hundreds or how you met Ben/Bobby?
ANNA WEYANT: I don't remember how I was first introduced to The Hundreds but my admiration for the brand was deepened after reading This Is Not A T-Shirt. I was later connected to Ben and Bobby (on a more personal level) through a mutual friend, Will Leung.
What about the book spoke to you?
At some point in the book, Bobby wrote about youth driving culture with incautious confidence, having nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s an observation that has repeatedly crept into my own work. I loved the book as a whole but those particular comments come to mind now.
I love that element of the book as well. I think the nothing-to-lose mentality has been especially prevalent during the pandemic, when people have had to go all-in on their creative endeavors to make up for the loss of “normal” work. How has your process been affected by everything going on this year?
Definitely. I’d have to step back from everything to really figure it out. But sometimes awesome work happens when it feels like nobody is watching.
And what else have you been reading or watching during the pandemic?
I just listened to Ashlee Vance’s biography of Elon Musk and recently read a book on Duveen by S. N. Behrman. I’ve also spent some time drooling over a book of Pieter Bruegel paintings.
How do you convey messages through your paintings?
I don't think I could say that there are objective truths in my work. Perception is interpretation.
Can you tell me about the design featured on your bandana? The snake tied in a knot feels very symbolic.
The snake is an emotionally evocative image in mythology, legend, culture, and religion. Fear of snakes is one of the most common phobias and yet we tend to be mesmerized by them. To various cultures and at various times, the snake has represented a diverse range of concepts including temptation, fertility, sexual desire, a creative life force, and safe passage of newly deceased souls to the afterlife. I felt that these allusions, coupled with the duality of its image – good and evil, medicine and poison, salvation and damnation – made it an ideal motif for this project. I associate bows with celebration or innocence, so a snake tied in a bow also felt almost like a punchline to its historical connections and connotations.
And do you create art differently knowing it’s going to be worn rather than framed on a wall?
This was my first time creating an image to be worn. I wanted to use elements of trompe l’oeil, considering that the project meant turning a flat image into something dimensional (when draped on a body, at least). Before painting it on stretched canvas, I drew versions of the snake on linen napkins to see how it would tie and fold at different scales.
You chose DREAM as your charity partner. Can you tell us a little bit about them and why you wanted to contribute to their mission?
DREAM is an awesome youth-focused organization that, in addition to being a full-time charter school, hosts summer and after-school programs in East Harlem, Newark, and South Bronx. Their goal is to provide the resources and opportunities to help children learn, grow, and play.
Thank you for taking some time to speak with me, Anna. I'm thrilled to gain some insight into your amazing work and I can't wait for our fans to get their hands on this beautiful bandana!
Thank you so much for speaking with me! I'm thrilled to take part in this project.
THE HUNDREDS ARTIST SERIES BANDANAS DROP THURSDAY, AUGUST 27