Anna Segner is a mixed-media painter, writer, and a freshly minted MFA artist from the Integrated Visual Arts program at Iowa State University. While achieving her MFA, Segner served as instructor for four sections of Drawing I at ISU. She graduated from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Literature with Writing Emphasis and Studio Art. Before graduate studies, she worked as a newspaper reporter in Owatonna, Minnesota.
Growing up in Minnesota and spending summer vacations camping in the Boundary Water Canoe Area, Segner has developed a love for physically and intellectually interacting with the landscape. Segner actively incorporates critical animal studies and material culture research to question the human act of “toying” with animals and the artificial approach to replacing the lost wild.
Segner has gained professional exposure through participation in both regional and national juried exhibitions and solo exhibitions. In summer of 2019, she looks forward to working ISU faculty on 20 Artists 20 Parks, an artist residency program celebrating the 100th birthday of Iowa State Parks in coordination between Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State University.
As children play with animal toys, they displace the animals’ natural context, habitat, agency, and behaviors. With playthings, children are encouraged to enact fictitious narratives that rely on speciesism and anthropomorphized clichés, further divorcing animals from their natural realities and anatomies. While the word “toy” suggests diminutive size and concomitant diminution of importance, to “toy” with something means to mess with or manipulate. Because toys reflect and teach values of a society, child’s play forms animal perceptions and misconceptions that are perpetuated into adulthood. It is troubling that adults treat animals as toys—put where wherever, admired when in the mood, ignored when fixated on something else, and tossed out when outgrown. Ironically, as humans long for a wildness that is less and less present in daily life, artificial nature is brought into the home through (textile pattern, wallpaper, décor, toys, etc.). Clearly, humans value nature and animals but have lost touch with true experiences of the wilderness.
My work utilizes toys in intricate still lives, assemblages, and installation to create work that considers animal toys as playthings stripped of agency and reduced to toy features. Cut out paintings of animal images disassociate the organisms in their environment, leaving a void replaced by toys. Many paintings depict animal toys among domestic spaces and everyday objects that also evoke nature themes, such as intricate wallpapers, patterns, and décor. Use of collaged textile and text speak to the illusion of these items. Mixed media paintings invite viewers to question the human act of “toying” with animals as well as reflect on the complexity of humans’ artificial approach to replacing the lost wild.
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