Anna Rotty


It’s a combination of my intentional control and the environmental forces around myself and the work.


Anna Rotty lives in Oakland, CA. Growing up in Massachusetts, she received a BFA in photography from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2011. Anna has been part of the San Francisco Artists Studios Collective since 2017. She is a co-founder of Work in Progress Bay Area, an arts discussion and critique group geared to bring together individuals practicing activism through creative outlets and promoting collaboration and support through the arts. She has recently exhibited at Flowers Gallery, Incline Gallery, SF Camerawork and UMass Amherst. Her work has been featured online with Juxtapoz, Humble Arts Foundation and she is a contributor to Bay Area arts publications such as The Racket and Fourteen Hills. Community and collaboration is an important part of Anna's practice. She is a contributing artist to the CounterPulse Block Fest Program which provides free public art workshops and programming to the community in the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco.


My recent work has been focused on how we process news around violence and power. I document current events while exploring the concept of monstrosity, by turning a lens at those in power as they experience moments of rage or reckoning with accountability. I attempt to express the fine line between absurdity and seriousness that can exist in outrageous or iconic moments. I often contemplate vulnerability, distance and the limits of introspection in my practice. In my practice I aim to express the emotions felt in our conscious and subconscious.

Mel and Jake - digital pigment print photograph, unique - 2016

Your photographs are akin to melted fever dreams. Can you tell us about your processes of

creation and the manipulation of photographic images?

Fever Dreams! I like that. I’ve been using this process of abstracting digital images in the analog world for a few years. I take photographic images (some found and some I’ve shot) and manipulate them, first in Photoshop and then in the printing process. I print the digital files on a synthetic paper not typically meant for photographic printing. The paper resists the ink, allowing it to pool up, drip, be moved around for some time as it dries. I hang the prints in different directions, let dust fall into them, and play with the slow pooling of colors until it gets to a place I like. It’s a combination of my intentional control and the environmental forces around myself and the work.

Mom Sleeping- digital pigment print photograph, unique - year

Typically, we think of photographs as still, but the softened, amorphous boundaries of your subjects suggest movement and change. How do you consider notions of rigidity or motion within your work?

I’m interested in how emotions change over time. The fluidity of my work is partly to investigate giving up total control of a piece. As they dry, they shift and morph from the image I collected, edited and altered digitally and once released they are susceptible to the world outside of myself. They become messy and vulnerable. It’s interesting you brought up rigidity, because I’ve currently been craving to pair these with something more clear and concrete, but I’m still working on what that looks like exactly.

Brett Kavanaugh - digital pigment print photograph, unique - 2019

Can you elaborate on your use of celebrity and political figures within your work?

I started using political figures in 2016 when I really began questioning if and how people in positions of power, candidates at this point in time, were actually representative of society. In some ways they are completely unrelatable and in others they reflect the culture at large. There’s a sense of impermanence and specificity in time that I’m interested in, which I feel celebrity and politics both share. As news and culture changes, the images have a different meaning later on. Usually, the people or imagery I’m interested in begin in a personal moment of shock or anger in reaction to an event I find iconic and absurd. Although they can be truly disturbing, I also find humor in the work and it acts as a method for processing the news and slowing down that story as we change and feel differently towards it. Giving them space and time plays a large role in how I understand this work.

Banquet - digital pigment print photograph, unique - 2019

Your two bodies of work, American Studies and Subject to Change, are aesthetically similar,

but each carry a very different tone. How do you arrive at a particular theme for a series of works?

I first began using this process with the more personal imagery of people, mostly in moments of stillness or sleep. I was hoping to evoke the feeling of drifting off into the subconscious or unconscious space in the presence of others. I later made a few pieces in reaction to the news around me, thinking about the distance and space between broader American culture and my personal experiences. They both refer to impermanence, change and time, but come from very different points of intention. Subject to Change is more focused on the personal and introspective connection while American Studies is more about the constant stream of information and action outside of my personal control. In photography there is always this conversation of internal vs external. I’m hoping to explore that and blend that barrier in this work.

Terrific Guy (Trump & Epstein) - digital pigment print photograph, unique - 2019

Can you tell us about your use of heightened and saturated color palettes? The exaggerated colors are intended to bring the imagery farther into the imaginary.

I enlarge or remove some imagery, brighten and enhance the colors that don’t necessarily exist in reality as a way to emphasize the feelings and emotions. In American Studies, I aim to “cartoonize” or highlight the absurdity of the original captured moment or story. I’ve recently been interested in playing with colors used in Instagram branding. I think we’ve become used to seeing these colors together and they give a sense of anxiety or reliance on a quick dopamine boost. By applying similar colors to the news images, I try to reclaim the monstrous moments with a new lens. I think about how quickly we can scroll through, forget, move on, but I think something bigger is moving around it all at the same time. People’s perspective starts to shift and later on that reveals itself through the culture at large.