FOR SOME OF US, CREATING ART IS A WAY OF LIFE, A PART OF WHO WE ARE, JUST LIKE BREATHING. FOR ANN MARIE VANCAS, THE PROCESS OF CREATION IS BROUGHT TO LIFE WITH THE HELP OF A UNIQUE CONDITION CALLED “SYNESTHESIA.” SYNESTHESIA IS WHERE THE EXPERIENCES OCCURRING IN ONE SENSORY PATHWAY (FOR ANN MARIE IT’S MUSIC) LEAD TO A SIMULTANEOUS, AUTOMATIC INVOLUNTARY EXPERIENCE IN A SECOND SENSORY. WHICH LITERALLY MEANS WHEN ANN MARIE HEARS MUSIC, HER MIND TRANSLATES SEEING WHAT SHE IS HEARING INTO BOLD, LIVING COLOR. AN ARTISTIC PROCESS SHE HAS COINED AS “SENSUISM.”
Can you tell us about the term “sensuism”?
I created the word “sensuism” because I felt the process of creating art was just as important, if not more so, than just describing the style. My style is a mix of surrealism and abstract expressionism. I have an intense love of music. I have always had music in the background to get me through life. It was an invisible hand to hold me up, when I thought I could not accomplish something. I suffer from anxiety and sometimes crippling shyness. I had a kind of obsession to make this hand visible, to share this with people; and in sharing this with others who may feel this way, to use it to embrace my art rather than turn to other self-destructive ways such as drugs or other addictions. Sensuism to me is, in a sense, a form of communicating like a poem, just without words. A combination of the senses, uniting hearing and sight to create a physical “sense-ual” perception.
Where do you draw inspiration for the right musical accompaniment to match your mood when creating?
This is the fun part. Sometimes I choose a decade; the 60’s is a fun one. I feel like I was born in the wrong decade. I would have loved to live in this time. A time of struggle, awakening, of color and curiosity. I happen to be listening to “Time of the Season” by the Zombies right now. Music can almost be a way of time travel. To pair what I am hearing, seeing bold, visual colors as I listen – it’s important to find the “match” of music…lest I lose the feeling or inspiration. I really love to go into a meditative state, a place of fantasy, a free space of pure creation.
What advice do you have for other artists who might be grappling with their own personal or physical hurdles?
I think that the most important thing I learned with my personal struggles or handicaps (mine were mostly mental and spiritual) was to find what makes you “you.” In other words, what others may say are faults, may just be merely differences. Do not be hampered; embrace what makes you different. Find those that support you and, like the struggling artists who have come before us, find your inspiration to keep going. Don’t judge yourself by other’s accomplishments or compare yourself to others as we all have different paths and there is an inherent beauty in that.
Do you have a favorite among your art?
My favorite creation and one I refuse to sell is called “Blue Girl.” She was a girl, beaten down by love and failed relationships, the hardships of life. This piece pretty much started my pastel series “Crying Girl.” There are music notes around, a nod to my love of music and a recent breakup with a musician I was dating at the time. I created a small creature on her neck, perhaps a cat? A fox? A protective little creature looking up at the girl to give the sad piece balance and hope, something that would be a recurring feature in my later works.
How would you describe yourself in five words or less – and what do you hope future artists take away from this interview?
A self-described “introverted extrovert nomadic nerd,” I hope that anyone struggling to find their inner artist remembers that sometimes we all need to take a risk. We live in a very conformist society. Acceptance isn’t everything. Sometimes what sets us apart can inspire us when we embrace it.