Please join the COA family in welcoming our newest writer, Anna Klos! Anna’s bio will be available shortly on our About page. Subscribe to COA so you don’t miss her upcoming debut piece Today is Friday, September 1st
How did your artistic parents, the weaver and the painter, influence you Anna?
Anna: Honestly sometimes it was hard drawing the line between creating with my parents and feeling like I was their joint art project when I was growing up. I have seen them experiment across mediums for years: my dad is an architect by trade but an oil painter on the side, but over the past year he and I have started this project where I mail him a piece of writing every once in awhile, a short personal essay or fiction excerpt, and he’ll mail me back a piece of art in response. So he definitely lets himself grow and find new permutations and new nooks and crannies in his psyche to exercise. My mother used to design and weave large scale tapestries. As a baby she would put me in a basket underneath her loom while she designed, and as a little kid I would weave small scale next to her in her studio. Two of the discs in her back ruptured when I was in fifth grade and we thought she would be paralyzed. Fortunately, Germany [unlike America] isn’t trying to constantly shoveling money into pharmaceutical companies so they actually have a very advanced surgery program for people with back injuries. After extensive work, her body was unable to sit and work with looms so she switched back into painting, drawing, and print work. Ultimately seeing my parents struggling and creating their own work taught me to love my solitude and to be hungry for more: more thoughts, more ways to create, more mediums to explore.
Portland is so often the city that draws people to it. What made you leave?
Anna: It’s true that from the outside, Portland seems like an absolute magnet. I loved growing up there, summers were filled with hikes around Mt. Hood with my father or weeks spent at outdoor camps or visits to the farmer’s market or long bike rides and home grown raspberries. Truly though, I watched my neighborhood go through intense gentrification. For the first ten years of my life we were the only white family that lived there. I watched as friends were forced to move away, as blocks and blocks of black families were displaced into farther north neighborhoods. This of course is a nation-wide issue, not specific to the Great Northwest, but Portland also used to be a huge bastion of white supremacy. For awhile it was considered the headquarters of the KKK on the West Coast. So all of these things can exist in one city, and I think sometimes people would like to forget that and focus on how good our coffee and beer culture is [they’re not wrong: Oregon and Washington coffee and beer are superior.] But the biggest reason I knew I had to move is because Oregon is a theater desert, with exception to Ashland. Even with that amazing Shakespeare culture, there’s very little room for experimentation. I studied Dadaism, Absurdism, and the Avant-Gard in undergrad and Chicago called me because we create work here that is truly unique. Nowhere else in this country is making half of the theater art that I see here every week. Portland is nice to visit, but I’m a very loud and messy person and I need a loud and messy city as my backdrop for anything to make sense.