Annie Layne, June 18, 1976–June 16, 2020
Statement from Virginia MOCA
June 25, 2020
Last week, Virginia MOCA learned of the sudden passing of artist Annie Layne. We only had the pleasure of knowing Annie for a few years and losing her weighs heavily on our hearts. We first saw her work in 2018 when Annie was selected for our annual New Waves juried art exhibition where she was awarded 3rd place by juror Cay-Sophie Rabinowitz. We were so taken by her embroidered work that we offered her a solo exhibition in 2019.
The reality that we are now living in a world that does not contain her bright light is hard. Annie was generous, kind, loving, and fun. She saw all the beauty in the world, especially in its imperfections. Her earnest acceptance and celebration of all that is off-center and odd was a gift to us. Through her art she encouraged us to recognize that beauty does not have a standard. She coaxed us to find grace in our odd shapes and hairy moles and to carve out our own definitions of what is feminine.
Most of all, she taught us about the power contained in a needle. Annie had a degree in art history and understood the traditions found in needlework and embroidery, while teaching them to us anew. Her work, much like her personality, was sly, witty, subversive, and exquisite.
We are both humbled and honored to know that Virginia MOCA gave Annie her first solo museum exhibition. Her voice and her talent were taken from us much too soon. Her lessons, her love, and her art will stay with us. We miss you Annie Layne and will never forget you.
About Annie Layne: Brazen:
MARCH 23, 2019–AUGUST 18, 2019
Annie Layne embroiders for the world in which she lives. She disrupts the historical stereotype of the demure woman making decorative needlework. Instead, Layne uses humor to approach subjects that provoke thought and discussion. At first glance, the embroidered works seem familiar and nostalgic. But just a little time spent with them reveals their depths. This is because the women in Annie Layne's embroidery aren't worried about us. They are busy embracing life. Bright, colorful, and filled with joy, these women are hardly the ideal. They embody imperfection with their moles, extra eyes, and facial hair, but those flaws are what also makes them appealing. A sea hag peeps out from colorful coral with ivory bubbles dancing from her lips. A bearded woman is in profile, her demeanor haughty as tropical butterflies adorn her hair. Idealized beauty does not concern them. They know their worth and beckon you to know yours as well.
Layne’s medium, embroidery, has a complicated history. In Medieval guilds, both men and women embroidered as part of economic production. Victorian historians turned it into a solely feminine realm. That distortion became our culture’s norm and eventual truth. It is often regarded as a symbol of old-fashioned femininity. Visions of grandmothers whiling away the hours spring to mind. Today, artists like Layne are turning this trope around. Embroidery, and all needlework, is a versatile medium that is a source of exploration, creativity and subversion.
Annie Layne is an artist who works and teaches in Waynesboro, VA. She exhibits across the country and received the 3rd place award for her work in New Waves 2018.
Annie Layne: Brazen is organized by the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art and curated by Heather Hakimzadeh, Curator.