We had the good fortune of connecting with Ann Morton and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ann, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
When someone identifies as “an artist”, many people then assume that your work is “fun”, “easy”, “not serious”, maybe even a “hobby”. I’ve worked in a more traditional circumstance – albeit my own design firm, but still, there was a structure. There was an office, people worked there, we had bookkeepers, clients, others to brainstorm with about the next creative deadline – and a regular paycheck. Being an artist is often a lonely pursuit, full of self doubt and second guessing. The income is sporadic, if at all – often times supplemented by other jobs that may or may not be related to your artistic practice. But most of all, what people don’t realize is that artists MUST do what they do. They are compelled by their own inner motivation to think about the things they do and make work that reflects those thoughts and intentions in ways only they can. But getting from the thought, the idea, to a satisfying, tangible work is where it gets messy, difficult, frustrating – but also euphoric, rewarding and gratifying. There are lots of artists out there that have long since abandoned their practice for more reliable ways to live. It is a hard road to go, but a life like no other.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My work exploits traditional textile techniques as conceptual tools for aesthetic, social communication to examine a society of which we are all a part – as bystanders, participants, victims and perpetrators. “Fibers” or “Textiles” can mean a lot of things in terms of technique – threads and strings, basketry, sewing, weaving, knitting, crochet, embroidery, etc – sculptural or 2D. But I don’t really focus on any one technique, rather, I choose the technique that supports the concept of the piece at hand. In addition, very important to my practice is a combination of my own hand-work and the work of many hands. A significant aspect of my work employs socially engaged projects that reach beyond my own studio. Harkening to the ideas of quilting bees or knitting circles, textile techniques serve as a magnificent organizing tools to employ in the social engagement work that I orchestrate within my practice. There is such a rich historic social/political underpinning connected to textiles, it is the ONLY medium through which I am moved to communicate in my own hand-work and to engage the work of others. Right now – I’m working on a project called the Violet Protest. This is a public engagement project reaching across the US, and which is focused on sending handmade textile squares to every member of the 117th US Congress in late 2021 in support of core values rather than any specific political or social issue. The call is for makers to create 8” x 8” textile squares using any fiber technique, while combining equal parts of red and blue. The color Violet symbolizes the literal combination of red and blue, long held as symbols of our nation’s differing ideologies. The common goal is to send a physical message through this expansive visual expression to demonstrate that if we as citizens are willing to come together, so then must our elected officials. To date, all 50 states, DC and Canada are represented by nearly 1200 makers making over 9100 squares. This count changes every day.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I will assume my friend is a “fiber nerd” like me. I might plan an Arizona road trip that travels through the heart of Navajo land – you can just feel the aura of native artisans on this drive. I’d start with the Heard Museum. Seeing the tapestry weaving and basketry done by Native Americans is a humbling experience – especially knowing the process behind those works. We’d head over to the Phoenix Art Museum specifically to check out the latest exhibit in the Fashion Design Gallery. The level of detail and design when seeing famous fashion designers’ work up close is extraordinary. Then we’d head grab an early lunch at Pane Bianco for a sandwich beyond any other. Then we head north – we can swing through Sedona to check out the red rocks and make our way up 89A through Oak Creek Canyon and emerge into Flagstaff where we’ll grab a coffee and maybe a treat at Macy’s. But onward north on 89 to Cameron. We can stop at this popular tourist post, and eat dinner there, browse the store, and spent the night. We head out early to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon – take in the views and have brunch at El Tovar. But onward back out to Hwy 89 to Hwy 160 toward Kayenta as we travel through the Painted Desert and the Navajo Reservation. We keep going and stop at the Teec Nos Pos trading post just before we reach 4 Corners. This trading post is a treat. You can buy raw skeins of yarn and lots of other weaving tools as well as finished works – pot and pans, and chips and soda. We head back through Kayenta and take the turn on 163 and drive through Monument Valley – and we take the turn to visit Gouldings Trading Post. But we also stop at any roadside stand we want to just look or buy – but have cash! We actually keep driving north and into Utah through Mexican Hat and up to Bluff where we spend the night again. We eat breakfast at Twin Rocks. Then we head back south to Flagstaff – 160 to 89 – we can stop at Sunset Crater and even Walnut Canyon before grabbing lunch at Mama Burger. We head back down toward Phoenix, but take 89A again, down the mountain, through Oak Creek Canyon, through Sedona toward Cottonwood and Jerome. We spend some time walking the streets and shops in Jerome before heading over Mount Mingus into Prescott. We spend the night and have dinner at the Hassyampa Inn (reportedly haunted by a honeymooning bride who hung herself in the bell tower after her new husband left her). Then we head back to Phoenix, just in time for Third Fridays. We visit Modified Arts and EyeLounge on Roosevelt and then we head over to Grand Avenue to see Hazel and Violet and the Five15 Gallery. We swing back to mid town and have dinner at the Barrio Cafe.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
To my husband, Bill Timmerman, who has always been there to support me in whatever I seek to do – however crazy, time consuming, messy or costly. To my teachers and mentors – many artists in their own right, but generous enough to set aside their own recognition to encourage me in the development of my artistic practice. Most of all, Clare Verstegen – mother hen, honest critic, and steadfast support.

Website: www.annmortonaz.com
Instagram: @annmortonaz
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ann-morton-606753b/
Twitter: @annmortonaz
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ann.morton.50/
Other: Violet Protest Links: http://www.violetprotest.com/
@thevioletprotest https://www.facebook.com/thevioletprotest

Image Credits
Personal photo: Gracie Timmerman Violet Protest composite – photo credit Ann Morton Makers: Top to bottom, Left to Right Top row: Heather Kirschner – Mesa, AZ; Cheryl Hopper – Washington, PA; Azra Kearns – Phoenix, AZ; Doerte Weber – San Antonio, TX; Carol Sanger – Phoenix, AZ Second row: Mary Logue – Golden Valley, MN; Katie Leinweber – Scottsdale, AZ; Candace Wilkinson – Phoenix, AZ; Hannah Allen – State College, PA; Tané Clark – Tempe, AZ Third row: Wendy Raisanen – Phoenix, AZ; Bonnie Scott – Salem, VA; Maxene Harlow – Clarksdale, MS; Tara Ritacco – Carlsbad, CA; Nancy Nakamoto – Torrence, CA Last row: Kitty Spangler – Pittsburgh, PA; Cheryl Goodberg – Marana, AZ; Maureen Craddock – N. Massapequa, NY; Audrey Good – Mesa, AZ (VP logo, Ann Morton) Let’s Eat: Bill Timmerman Blue MAGA: Bill Timmerman When I’m 64: Bill Timmerman

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.