Anni Christensen 

Class of 2020

Anni is an interdisciplinary artist that primarily utilizes mediums of collage, printmaking, and drawing in her exploration of the body and the sensation of touch. Her fascination with hands as humanity’s tools for learning, making, experiencing, and communicating has echoed throughout her life and work. She aims to describe and translate the embodied experience of touch both through visual collage and tactile installation.  

Anni’s lived experience of touch differs greatly from most as she moves through the world on the Autism Spectrum: an embrace from others often causes alarm, overstimulation, or anxiety at best. ‘Once in a while, she gets a glimpse into the comfort and surge in oxytocin (often known as the ‘love’ hormone) that touch may bring but she ultimately does not understand this process. She uses this ‘body’ of work to delve deeper and explore the complex experience of and communication behind touch, with collage as a tool for enacting the body as a location for expression, comfort, identity, and interaction. The researching, xeroxing, cutting, and designing that Anni performs in the collages mirror the common Autistic ‘copying and pasting’ she does in her everyday attempts to connect with others.  

She draws from early twentieth century portrait photographs, magazine and fashion imagery, and records of famed artists’ work to explore representations and embodiments of the body, especially in relationship with others. Themes of gender, power dynamics, consent, and anxiety arise in contrast to or conversation with images of connection and comfort. Her collages can be categorized as exploring self-soothing or sitting with oneself, sensual and connective touch with others, and or manipulative or non-consensual experiences. Engaging with and processing her work requires the viewer to interact with and move through the hanging fragments of her ‘touch’ pieces, forming an entry point where the viewer is physically touching and also being touched by her work. She aims to translate the overwhelming and overstimulating experience of touch through this installation, bringing the viewer into an assemblage that echoes the content of her work and experience. Ultimately, she hopes viewers will leave the installation thinking more critically about how they sense and make meaning of touch in their life.  

Touch (v.) 

  1. Come so close to (an object) as to be or come into contact with it.  
  1. Handle in order to manipulate, alter, or otherwise effect, especially in an adverse way.  

Manipulate (v.)  

  1. Handle or control (a tool, mechanism, etc.), typically in a skillful manner.  
  1. Control or influence (a person or situation) cleverly, unfairly, or unscrupulously. 

See more of Anni's work here.

Photo of artwork by SU student Anni Christensen installed in the Vachon Gallery

Installation View, Mixed Media, 2020