Meet Annesta Le
Fans of cyberpunk neo noir, and beautiful abstract shapes will find a lot to love about the work of Annesta Le. The artist uses the medium of neon lights to create fantastic sculptures that glow with that special kind of warmth that can only come from a neon light. Get to know a little more about them and their creative process in our latest interview.
Self Portrait by, Annesta Le
Would You Rather
Whose face would you rather have on the back of your head Shia Lebouf, or Martha Stewart?
Neither! Although it might be interesting with Shia. What would he do? Would he control my body? Would I end up in his movies? Would I be forced to do some weird performance art? Would I have to have sex with his partners? I liked him in Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac and SIA’s elastic heart video. So yeah, I guess Shia would be the clear winner on this.
Imperfect Love, 2012 (glass, neon, wire) by, Annesta Le
Some questions with Annesta Le
In the description of your latest exhibition, “Inner Space,” you say that “Glass, a hard yet fragile material, links to the psychological feeling of being exposed and vulnerable” How has showing these intimate pieces in galleries informed your work as an artist?
I still feel nervous and a little vulnerable every time I show my work. These works are an intimate part of me and when they are out there in the world, I feel more liberated and accepting of myself. This cycle of increasing liberation and freedom encourages me to take risks and keep pushing myself further in my art practice.
Embolden, 2015 (phosphor coated glass, argon, wire) by, Annesta Le
What are your favorite galleries/museums in New York and why?
I find myself coming back to the Whitney again and again. The Whitney is the perfect size to see art for a few hours without getting fatigued or overwhelmed. Then there’s the Met, which has some peaceful, quiet, tucked-away areas that tourists rarely get to—such as the 17th century Astor Chinese Garden Court, the Islamic Art Wing, and the Moroccan courtyard. In Bushwick there’s the 56 Bogart Building with their cluster of small galleries and project spaces. Everytime I go there, I run into friendly faces and get a chance to see what’s coming out of that neighborhood.
Untitled, 2019 (panel, krypton, glass, wire) by, Annesta Le
What do you do when you've hit a creative slump?
I get up and walk or stretch. I go outside near my studio in Brooklyn or wander around the city. I find the physical act of moving around extremely helpful to get the flow back. I also turn off all notifications and temporarily delete social media apps.
Oona, 2016 (coated glass, argon, wire) by, Annesta Le
One summer I was under a deadline to finish work for a grant and I couldn’t get the work where I needed it to go. Every weekend that summer I brought my sketchbooks to the waterfront parks near the west side highway. I sat quietly and let small ideas appear on paper. This went on for weeks. Then one morning at 7 am everything just hit me all at once, I jumped out of bed and grabbed my notebook and furiously wrote in it. You can’t plan it... You just don’t know when it hits. But when it does you better catch it.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
“Don’t listen to other artists regarding your work, try talking with poets and writers” - An art critic once said this to me.
“Stop worrying, let go and relax.” This is extremely helpful for when I get too wrapped up and neurotic about minor situations. I can get caught up in the little details.
Soft Touch, 2016 (coated glass, argon, wire, spraypaint on panel) by, Annesta Le
Who was your most influential family member growing up?
I would say the most influential family member was my father. My father wished for me to be an engineer like him and I grew up with math and coding books around the house. I started debugging code on paper by hand when I was a kid and I learned my first coding language when I was about 14 or 15 years old. But these were the wishes of my dad, not me. Personally, I was drawn to the creative field and wanted to go to art school but instead I majored in Computer Science. At first, I was pretty bummed about not being able to pursue what I wanted. But looking back now I think it galvanized me to become an artist later in life. I eventually found my own way back into the art world and it feels like it was meant to happen this way.
Much of your neon work embraces a sense of unpredictability. What guides your formal decisions?
I always tend to look for the psychological aspect and symbolism in things. The combination of the internal self along with certain aesthetics I’ve acquired guides my decisions and compositions. I also don’t want things to be so literally descriptive in my work, the viewer should form their own associations when looking at the work.
Untitled2, 2019 (glass, krypton, wire) by, Annesta Le
Your marker drawings seem like a departure from your work with neon, using vivid colors and imagery. What tends to make you pick up the marker instead of bending neon?
Working with neon is very technical and physical. First I have to commute to a glass shop to create the work. Secondly, you’re in front of heat and flames all day and dealing with sharp tools and glass shards in a tight space. It’s also a challenge to transport the work due to it’s fragile nature. After weeks on end of bending glass, I need a break. It’s nice to have a more peaceful day, just picking up a marker and drawing with podcasts playing in the background. No planning, no commuting. Just getting up, going to your desk and drawing.
Any final comments? (This is your electronic soapbox for one last answer.)