Representing primarily works that she has experienced only through reproduction, Anna Von Mertens attempts to understand the power of a masterpiece - its “aura,” if you will. To create these signature hand-stitched hand-dyed fabric works, Von Mertens studied the art of aura reading, learning to depict this supposed aspect of several iconic portraits from art history, ranging from paintings of Adam and Eve by Hendrick Goltzius to Elizabeth Peyton's Zoe's Kurt (1995). With stitching, Von Mertens highlights the silhouette of the original portrait and the locations of the subject’s chakras, preserving a sense of the composition of the source artwork. Through additional research into the relationship between the sitter and the portraitist Von Mertens aims to characterize the nuance and tone of both participants.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1973, Anna Von Mertens received her BA from Brown University in 1995 and her MFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts in 2000. Von Mertens has had solo exhibitions at the Sara Meltzer Gallery (New York, NY), Jack Hanley Gallery (San Francisco, CA), the Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery (Los Angeles, CA) and the Berkeley Art Museum, among many others. She has been included in group exhibitions at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco, CA), The Center for Curatorial Studies Museum, Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY), and Artists Space (New York, NY). In 2007 Von Mertens was a recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award, and in 2002 was an Artist in Residence at The MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH. Recently, Anna Von Mertens was announced as the 2010 USA Simon Fellow, awarded by United States Artists, a public charity devoted to arts advocacy, funding, and support. Portraits will be Von Mertens’ third exhibition at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery.