Before Deborah Carroll Anzinger began pursuing art full time she was crunching data and testing analysis on blocking HIV in the peripheral immune system. She received her PhD in Biology from Rush Medical College and relocated to DC in 2007 with her husband Josh who also holds a doctoral degree in the same subject.Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Deborah came to the states to attend college in Baltimore and then Chicago. She spends time each year visiting family and friends back home in addition to Reno, Nevada. Travel and history are pliable constructs that Deborah uses as inspiration in her work, stating that “Paint is a mirror for life, and my work stands as a reconciliation of my suburban, urban, and rural homes over the years.”Deborah quickly immersed herself in the DC art scene upon arriving to the city.
She participated in DCAC’s Sparkplug program and later took residency at Pyramid Atlantic for two months where she learned screenprinting and helped redesign and build their live, work, exhibition space. I visited Deborah at her apartment in Adams Morgan on a warm windswept day this past November, excited to continue our conversation that began while installing work together for a show in October. Her home is a place where creative energy runs rampant. Stepping into the large open interior, paintings, drawings, doodles, and wall sculptures lurk around every corner. Some are made by Deborah, some by her young daughter Zoey, and some by her husband. It is a positive force to experience first hand. A pentagonal shape drawn on the floor with faded white tape quarantines her studio, located in the back corner of her apartment. “The rules of the house are a trying attempt by all,” she exclaimed with a smile. “Indoor soccer games between Josh and Zoey will occasionally send a soccer ball cascading into a wet painting.” But this doesn’t bother Deborah. The frenetic ambience of her home sets the tone for the breadth of living that she distills on her painted surfaces.Her daily practice is rooted in an interdisciplinary approach that weds her tactile sensibilities with her academic aptitude.
Combining her background in the medical sciences with her affinity for collecting things, Deborah incorporates the vast array of stimuli that surrounds her in a cosmic soup of art production.Gazing at the multitude of work that Deborah had organized for my visit, I decided to discuss her paintings first. I asked her about “My sister had a pogo stick,” a large painting bisected diagonally with a minimal, pink upper portion and figurative, earth tone bottom segment. Deborah explained the juxtaposition of forms in her work as a recurrent theme, representing “a fragmented past and riffs in reality.” The hard-edged pink portion of the painting signifies her love of the aesthetics of graphs and charts while the expressionistic underbelly of the painting references her memory of friends and family back home. This dichotomy of empirical evidence continued around the studio in different forms.
Hand-sized objects playfully constructed of sculpy and painted in a rainbow swath of color rest suspended from long nails on an adjacent wall. These ersatz representations of real bar graphs and reference sources coexist alongside home photos that have been enlarged and reconstituted in organic and geometric shapes. This anthropological wall configuration points to Deborah’s fascination with the subject of constructed authorship of information. By co-opting visual cues from other disciplines she creates a parallel universe that highlights the limits of all forms of information to communicate accurately. “Photos become data and the symbols in graphs,” she went on to explain.
Looking toward the future, a small tent-like structure, painted and taking up the center of her studio floor, will soon be exhibited as a performance installation piece. This “politicized tilt toward a pluralist idea of shared capital” will directly involve audience members to participate in the final construction of her ideation. Deborah is not only transcending the content in her work here, but also the medium of paint.
Before I left for the day I wanted to know what kind of initial drive motivates her to create a place where everything touches everything, covered in a veil of paint. “Everything I do stems from the physical joy I get from mixing colors and the pleasure received from the gritty like components of the process of making. Conceptual breakthroughs often come from carrying out automated tasks.” With influences that stem from both the arts and sciences, Deborah is turning everyday objects into things of elevated significance.
For anyone who has never met Deborah Carroll Anzinger the first thing you will probably notice about her is her infectious smile and warm demeanor. She is smart, polite, and truly shares the conversation. She is currently working at DCAC as their Office Manager and has work on view at GMU’s Founder’s Hall in Arlington as part of a group show entitled “New Beginnings,” curated by Lisa McCarty. When Deborah isn’t preparing for shows she is avidly sending artwork to clients through Project Dispatch, DC’s homegrown art subscription service directed by Chandi Kelley. To see more of Deborah’s work, go to her website at: www.deborahanzinger.com