Artist creates scenery through collaboration
Ann Gumpper is busy. As a scenic designer and painter, she nearly always has a hand in a couple of different projects. Her painting and design work can be spotted in the tanks of the Shipwrecks Alive! exhibit at the Great Lakes Aquarium, in the b...
Ann Gumpper is busy.
As a scenic designer and painter, she nearly always has a hand in a couple of different projects. Her painting and design work can be spotted in the tanks of the Shipwrecks Alive! exhibit at the Great Lakes Aquarium, in the basement of Pilgrim Congregational Church and in the backdrop of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra's performance of "Carmen" on Nov. 15.
Gumpper received the Artist Award from the Depot Foundation because of her community-oriented work. She received the award during the 2014 Arts and Culture Awards ceremony on Oct. 22.
"Ann is an artist and she has designed the backdrops and stages for many of the Playhouse events and various opera events. She has done wonderful, wonderful work in the community for many years," said Dick Fischer, immediate past chair of the Depot Foundation.
"I was kind of stunned but also really honored to be among that group. It never occurred to me that I'd be a recipient," Gumpper said.
Whether she's designing sets for the Minnesota Ballet, painting backdrops for the Lyric Opera of the North or creating artistic plans for aquarium exhibits, Gumpper is always connecting and collaborating with other artists and community members.
She works with professionals and amatuer painters, musicians, opera singers, lighting designers, costume designers and props masters.
"And we're all collaborating on this big project, whether it be a show or a mural or whatever," she said. "And it's so much bigger and so much more exciting than anything that I could do by myself. That's what attracts me about the kind of work that I do."
Gumpper carries that spirit of collaboration into her other projects. In 2008, she worked with Pilgrim Congregational Church to create a mural in their bottom level that depicted the church's history, mission and other important facets of the church.
"Everybody in that church who wanted to have a hand in making that mural was able to participate," Gumpper said. "I set it up so there were different kinds of things to do to get it up on the wall. So people who weren't comfortable on ladders were doing drawings on a table. It was fun."
Gumpper remembers that the youngest person to contribute to that mural was 18 month olds and the oldest was 92.
"How fun is that?" she said.
Recently Gumpper worked with teenagers at the Duluth Public Library to create a window mural near the newly designated "Teen Space."
"I had a couple of brainstorming sessions with the teens and we created the design together. Then I showed them how to transfer the images and let them do the work. It was really great to have that much participation," Gumpper said.
Gumpper also had a lot of participation when she worked with a few other local artists to create a mural for the waiting room of the Duluth Family Visitation Center. The center provides a place for children to meet with their non-custodial parents when they need to have supervised visits. Gumpper said they were asked to brighten up the room.
"It felt a little bit like purgatory in that room, it was very cold and austere. So we created this big ol' apple tree and a sunny space so that they could think about something other than what they were doing here. It was a little symbol of growth and hope and new life," Gumpper said.
Gumpper said her community based projects are "very rewarding."
"I love doing it and I never get tired of it or lonesome because I'm always working with people," she said.