Ana Maria Farina was born and raised in Brazil and is now based in the Hudson Valley, New York. She attended Columbia University and SUNY New Paltz for her graduate studies, and in 2018 she was awarded a fellowship to the NYFA Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program. Farina’s work has been featured in many spaces throughout New York such as the SPRING/BREAK Art Fair, the Wassaic Project, the Garrison Art Center, the Dorsky Museum, Paradice Palase, Susan Eley Fine Art, among others, and she sometimes writes for WHITEHOT Magazine. Farina is the 2021 recipient of the College Art Association Fellowship in Visual Arts.
"I paint with a gun–a tufting gun–along with needles, hooks, and knots. Repurposing a phallic signifier of violence, I conjure vibrant objects of comfort that inhabit a mystical pictorial space between abstraction and representation. Stabbing fabric with yarn, my psyche cracks open into fibers. It’s intuitive. It’s cathartic. It’s a pain in the ass. It’s draining. It’s satisfying. The resulting images are hysterical—in the truest sense of the word. Liberated from its slanderous connotations, hysteria is understood as a manifestation of the unconscious ferociously unbound. Ruptures are reborn as rugs, inviting the viewer into the home within."
Tell us a little about yourself and your background in the arts.
Hi! I'm a visual artist from Brazil, now living in Beacon, NY. I came to the US seven years ago to get my masters in Art Education at Columbia University, after working as a fashion designer for a couple of years in São Paulo. I lived in the city for 5 years, working in many different art teaching jobs (name it, I've done it), until I finally managed to give myself the opportunity to focus on myself and my art practice: I started my MFA at SUNY New Paltz. New Paltz also made me fall completely in love with the Hudson Valley, which I am now lucky to call home. I am currently teaching at SUNY New Paltz, while creating work from my basement-converted studio.
What kind of work are you currently making?
For the past two years, I have been exploring making fiber paintings. I work with a tufting gun as a (very aggressive) paintbrush to create large-scale imagery that I believe represents the release of aspects of the unconscious mind that have been repressed. I also make use of grounding fiber techniques such as latch hooking, rug hooking, and punch needle to incorporate more detailed work while also slowing down. Working with craft techniques to create fiber paintings has made me more aware of material hierarchies in the art world, how, historically, fiber arts have been considered "feminine" and "domestic" and thus marginalized.
What is a day like in the studio for you?
I never have one day that is similar to another, especially with my teaching schedule. The ideal day for me is a slow morning with meditation, breakfast, journaling/reading, and cuddling with my cats, followed by some quality studio time before lunch. After lunch, a quick power nap with my cats (seriously, this is one of my favorite things to do and makes me feel like the luckiest woman alive when I can actually do it) and then I get right back to the studio, where I work until early evening. When I'm in there, most of the time it's like a workout: I give it all I have and leave when I'm exhausted (usually gross and sweaty too)—it's not cute. The process of tufting and embroidering large pieces is cathartic but also a pain in the ass. It's visceral, physical and labor-intensive, and I can spend hours working on a square foot of fabric that I might unstitch later if the result is not what I was imagining. I work on the back of the fabric, so I don't know how it's coming together until I check out the other side of the frame. Luckily, fibers are a very forgiving material, and undoing is as integral to the process as the doing. Besides the creation of pieces, some days I'll just be in my studio untangling and rewinding yarn, or looking at catalogues to find the colors I have in my head, or realizing I'll have to dye the yarn myself.
What are you looking at right now and/or reading?
I've just recently watched the great documentary "Maria: Don't Forget I Come From the Tropics," about the life and work of Maria Martins, an artist I love. Meanwhile I am part of a book club focused on women in art history, so I have been reading a lot of articles on different artists/themes every month, which has been great. I've discovered the work of Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington, for instance, and I've read many important texts by bell hooks, Griselda Pollock, Adrien Piper, among others. I am also a part of an incredible collective of Brazilian women working with textiles, Agulhas Unidas, and we meet every other week to discuss texts on textiles, feminism, and politics. The latest text we read together was "Feminism, experience and representation in Latin American's feminine" by Chilean author Nelly Richard (2008).
Where can we find more of your work?