Northern Michigan artist Amanda Acker was raised in suburban Chicago, but spent her summers in Onekama where she says her “love for the region was planted.” Today she lives with her husband and daughter on a 12 acre homestead in Manistee county. Some of Amanda’s art is currently being featured at BLK MRKT in Traverse City and will be on display in the coffee shop from July 1—August 9. MyNorth’s Eliza Foster chatted with Amanda to learn more about her art, inspirations and more.
Was there a particular moment when you knew you were going to be a artist?
Since I was a small girl I knew I would be a artist, astronaut or actress. As it turned out I have terrible stage fright and math eluded me, so in my mind there was only one thing left to be.
I can remember when I was about 10 or 11, I took a park district watercolor class. I made a series of moody landscapes, all ochre and slate blue. I would lock myself away in my room, lay the paintings out on the floor and contemplate them from the high perch of my bed. The paintings made me think pretty grandiose and existential thoughts for a kid. The memory makes me laugh now, but stands out as a definitive moment when I identified as an artist.
How would you describe your style?
This is a ever-evolving answer. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have answered this question, five years ago I would have said figurative, two years ago I might have said magical realism, whereas now I guess you could say I’m more of a regionalist. This landscape has taken grasp of me and grounded me in the real. I also don’t want to shy away from the humorous and sensual, such a vital part of it all.
Are those self-portraits? I noticed you don’t show your face often. Why is that?
Sure, many of them are in the sense that I use myself as the model. That is mostly out of convenience; I am an available patient model to myself. For the most part, I want it to be a more generalized human-experience moment. I’m not looking to tell my specific story, but more of a narrative that feels relatable to a wider group of people. To give the viewer the opportunity to be there in that moment or remember a time that felt like that moment.
What inspires you?
This landscape, the people that inhabit it. The waters, the meadows, the rambling nature of a rural landscape. We’re so lucky to be here, so lucky that we can be readily reminded of this just by looking out the window. The people of this area are of a generous, humble, and authentic nature. I’ve never had so many role models in my life, I’m constantly inspired by the community around me.
My young daughter, her wild spirit and child wonderment.
I have a scrap of paper taped above my desk with some wabi-sabi ideas written on it. Truth comes from the observation of nature, “greatness” exists in the inconspicuous and over-looked details, beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness. I’ve taken a lot of comfort and inspiration from these ideas as of late.
Where can people find your art (when it’s not going to be at BLK MRKT)?
For updates: Check out my Facebook page.
Meet Amanda at the Meet the Artist reception on Monday July 13th from 6-7:30 pm at BLK MRKT.