Ann-Marie Manker’s  “The Rooster and the Rainbow” exhibit explores gender and fantasy


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By Lucy Wimmer

Executive Staff
On  Friday, September 29 in the Carlos Gallery, Ann-Marie Manker gave her artist’s talk on the topics of gender, color, and the creation of art. She focused on her past works and galleries, as well as her artistic process, which she broke down into five steps: research, thumbnails, reference imagery, refined sketch and color or value comparisons.  

“I tend to think of art and creation as something that happens on a whim, but it’s obviously a very scientific, formulaic, perhaps, endeavor,” Gil Horner (C ‘20) said. “It takes research, many sketches, many resources drawn on, but in the end it’s almost like you’re presenting your research. You have all these things that go into it– the labors of creating something that seems so easily in front of you.”

While the exhibit was shown as a cohesive set, it actually consisted of a few different series. The “Under the Rainbow” exhibit was created in 2014 and some of the works from this series were showcased in the Carlos gallery. These works present women in fantastical, rainbow-saturated spaces, hiding behinds masks and hair. Manker plays with the idea of masks as they are something that you can hide behind, but also something that superheros wear when they save the day. “You don’t always kno w what [the women in these pieces] are doing, but it is focused on their empowerment,” Manker said.

Another of the series exhibited was her “El Gallo” series. This series is a collection of bright, colorful anamorphic men-rooster hybrids. These roosters represent Manker’s “boogiemen, [her] biggest fear,” stemming from a “scary thing” that happened to her while she was in college in Tuscon. She uses imagery related to the desert, such as cactus, guns, bandanas, and chile peppers to exemplify the masculinity of the beings. “They’re threatening, they’re scary, but there is something beautiful to them,” Manker said, “when you have your own demons, that’s your fantasy, that’s your image.”

Her presentation of her biggest fear resonated with audiences, “the intersection of human and animal is beautiful when it’s executed in that way, executed in a way that you’re drawing on physical characteristics of these two types of beings, but also the baggage that goes along them,” Horner said.  

The works in the gallery focused on the masculine and the feminine and the empowerment of the female. Manker uses bright colors and symbols to represent the workings of the masculine and feminine powers within her world, which Horner describes as a “villain and heroine type thing.” In this sense, she uses her art to feel powerful herself, and react positively to handle her trauma. “I have this desire to be this strong person who kicks ass. Through art or music or writing, we can make ourselves larger,” Manker stated.