Anna Collette was born in Massachusetts in 1974. She received a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and an MFA from Yale University. She currently lives in Austin TX and is an assistant professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the university of Texas in Austin.
Anna Collette's photography explores conflicting notions of the contemporary landscape.. Her work began in 2002 with a series rendering the natural world in both urban and suburban environments. Collette's work redefines, both visually and metaphorically, the failed idealism of our increased development.
Her next series, Invasive Species (2005-2007), presents views of an invasive plant, Pueraria lobata or kudzu, which is overtaking large swaths of the Northeast. Here, the landscape is a metaphor for terrifying destruction and transcendent beauty at once.
Collette’s additional work, Dark Landscapes (2008), portrays a forest at nightfall during winter. She exposed the negatives so each image is barely perceptible to the human eye, then used a scanner to read and render the negatives perfectly, revealing an impenetrable, tangled, and forbidding realm.
The Invasive Species series isn't, as one might initially surmise, a sprawling wild landscape so virginal and unblemished that it's practically oppressive. Rather, these forests in the northeastern United States are the latest front in the so far futile struggle between native plants and Kudzu. The vine is native to the south of Japan and southeast China, but since being introduced in Florida has spread to cover about a third of the U.S. and is now making its way through the mid-Atlantic and northeast states. This slow, as yet unstoppable ground invasion, constantly and imperceptibly spreading to new battlefields, threatens the very landscape that is so bound up in ideas of American identity and ideology.
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I made this work in the southernmost reaches of Travis County (Central Texas) several months after a historic rainfall that further worsened the seasonal flooding. The flood in Onion Creek ripped out trees with shallow root systems that then rushed downstream. The trees were caught by a grove of Live Oaks that acted as a net, and a 30-foot wall of water was created. I arrived a few months later. I first saw the creek, now dry and ashen, from the highway overpass. I began wandering back and forth on the bridge, placing my camera over the edge of the rail. With the monocular perspective of the camera, I saw a dizzying and almost revisionist view in which the fallen seemed to stand. I then began trespassing. I photographed the accumulation of limbs and branches caught in the trees. I thought these images in the landscape related to the history of portraiture. Week after week, I returned with a large 12x15 foot studio backdrop and made singular portraits of the trees and debris, fixating on their hanging limbs and severed sticks.