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Podcast transcription: Joy and Terror in the Art of Annie Poon

Glen Nelson:                  Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Mormon Arts Center's Studio Podcast. I'm your host Glen Nelson in New York. In our second episode, we present an interview with visual artist, Annie Poon whose award-winning, stop-motion animation films have been exhibited in museums and film festivals across the country. Today. We'll discuss Poon's work, her respect for outsider artists, how her mental health issues affect her artwork, and her daily creative exploration of LDS scriptures and their translation into her singular imagery. Annie Poon's films have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the New Museum, Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival, Chicago International Children's film festival, Nick-toons, the Brooklyn Museum, the Bronx Council for the Arts International Festival of Cinema and Technology, San Diego International Children's Film Festival, Garden State Film Festival, LDS Film Festival, PBS, CBS, the Museum of Arts and Design, and the National Gallery, among many others. She's twice won best film awards from the Association of Mormon Letters, in 2006 for The Book of Visions and in 2016 for The Split House. The citation for that prize read, "Despite the multiple meanings of its title, The Split House showcases artist Annie Poon's impressive ability to combine and merge multiple profound concerns including mental illness, Mormon missionary life, emotional distress, and spiritual healing." They called it a "significant achievement in Mormon film." The Split House was the subject of an extended exhibition at the BYU Museum of Art last year. While best known for stop-motion animation, she's made over 30 films now. How many altogether?

Annie Poon:                  I stopped counting.

Glen Nelson:                  ...stopped counting at 30, Poon's body of work includes drawing, painting, sculpture, and increasingly, etching. So welcome. Annie. I am so excited to have you here today. 

Annie Poon:                  I'm so happy to be here. 

Glen Nelson:                  I'm not entirely sure that you're honest with that. I think we're both nervous that we want to do a good job. I feel like we, you know, we could spend our entire episode time just talking about your accomplishments; there are so many. I haven't even mentioned commissions you've had, where your art is in permanent collections, in institutions and museums, and so on. But I can see your eyes glazing over as I talk about you. So let's get down to the work instead. Is that okay? 

Annie Poon:                  Okay.

Glen Nelson:                  So you've given a lot of interviews, and without exception they all seem to focus on the process of making your artworks. And I mean I can understand that. Stop-motion animation is kind of magical. You see it, and you immediately want to know how it's made. But how about if today we focus on your recent works and talk about them in terms of why you make them rather than how you make them. 

Annie Poon:                  I love that.

New Speaker:                  Cool. I'd like to put your work in context with some other great artists who sensibilities that you appear to share. First of all, how comfortable are you talking about your work? Is that something that you'd like to do? 

Annie Poon:                  I want my work to give a strong message. I want people to feel like they understand it. I know a lot of art is difficult when you look at it to get something from it right away, and my work is just the opposite, I hope. 

Glen Nelson:                  I remember going to a film festival at the New Museum, and you had a question and answer session at the end of it, and you were just as excited when a child had a question as an adult had a question. 

Annie Poon:                  Yeah, because I get a lot of my inspiration from children, and when I spend time with children I get my best ideas. 

Speaker 2:                  What kind of interaction do you like with viewers of your films? Do you like it when they want you to explain what it means and kind of draw back the curtain, or do you want to know what worked for them or how it made them feel and think? 

Annie Poon:                  I want them to ask me what it's about because when I talk to people about what it's about, I'm actually learning as I talk. I'm actually putting things together for myself because when I make the films, I don't know what it's about. I'm just doing a stream of consciousness exercise, so when people ask me what it's about or where it comes from, I'm happy to give as much detail as I can. 

Glen Nelson:                  I think it surprises people who are not artists that an artist might not be able to be the best person to explain their own work, but I find talking with quite a few artists that they really work from a place of intuition rather than, you know, planning out every single thing. When people approach you about they're about seeing your work, is it like you can imagine looking at the movie through their eyes? 

Annie Poon:                  Well, I try to look at it through their eyes, and I'm usually a little curious about what they're getting out of it, and so they get things out of it that I didn't necessarily know that I put into it. But when they look at it and they explain it to me or they ask these questions, it usually hits a spot in the bottom of my gut, and I say, "Oh my gosh, I think that's in there. I think they're right." 

Glen Nelson:                  Do they sometimes say stuff and you say, "No, that's not in it."

Annie Poon:                  One time I was giving a presentation at BYU of The Split House, and someone said, "Is it like therapy for you to make these?" And I just said it doesn't help one bit. It's not like therapy where you go in and you feel better because you got it off your chest. It's more... Sometimes it's painful to make it, and sometimes it's painful to watch it, but the thing that really makes it wonderful to me is talking to people about it. 

Glen Nelson:                  In looking at the totality of Mormon art, your work really stands out. There isn't anyone like you. A lot of visual artists in the Church are preoccupied--it seems to me--with landscape or making devotional art or increasingly there's an urge to make folk-art inspired flatness in their works. Do you consciously try to be singular or is that just the way that your work is developed? 

Annie Poon:                  I don't try to be singular. I just try to be authentic to my own memories and my own experiences, and I think that every artist who does that will come out with work that's completely different. 

Glen Nelson:                  Some of he listeners here will probably have never seen your work before, so when someone comes up to you and says, "You're an artist. Cool. What is your work like?" What do you do? How do you respond to them? 

Annie Poon:                  Well, I used to respond about my technique. You know, I do these cutout paper, stop-motion animations, but what I found that people are wanting to know is what is the story behind your work? What is the emotion that you're putting into it? What are the experiences that are inspiring your work? And when I talk to people on that level, then they're more interested in looking at it and interpreting it for themselves. 

Glen Nelson:                  You're more of a storyteller than quite a few artists that I know. That's seems perfectly logical in a medium like film. Even your drawings and etchings and paintings imply a story, too. 

Annie Poon:                  That was actually one of the reasons why I went into animation because when I was painting, I would work days on one still image, and I couldn't tell a story like I wanted to. I wanted to just flip through these images like a stop-motion animation or like a little flip book that you make in the corner of your textbook. I wanted the images to go by that quickly so that they could tell a story, and I wanted to incorporate humor and music and all these things that I couldn't do in painting. So the minute I started doing animation, I felt like I could finally speak the way I wanted to. 

Glen Nelson:                  So I saw your paintings--I'm an old guy--I remember seeing those when you were still in school, and they were gorgeous though. I remember them being really colorful, kind of thickly-painted in a sense that they were sensual, like you wanted to... like a Wayne Thiebaud painting, you felt like it was something that you could reach out and scratch and sniff. 

Annie Poon:                  I was using frosting for a little while. 

Glen Nelson:                  You were, really?

Annie Poon:                  I was making frosting out of modeling paste and piping it onto the canvases like a cake. 

Glen Nelson:                  So I have never made a connection that stop-motion animation was essentially a response to impatience, that you wanted to move it along. 

Annie Poon:                  Yeah. I wanted to speak more in my voice, more clearly. 

Glen Nelson:                  The story goes that your husband, Kah Leong, who's a fantastic commercial photographer, pushed you and said, "These paintings aren't really the Annie that I know." I mean, is there something to that story? 

Annie Poon:                  Yeah. I mean I was making paintings about painting itself. I was thinking about how painting was so static, and then I was taking these old photographs and creating these images that were blurred like a memory from a dream, and it was all about these static memories that were kind of disconnected from reality. And making painting about how static painting is just wasn't that exciting to my husband for some reason, and when he pointed out that it didn't match my personality, you know... I don't know, he thinks I'm funny. He thinks I'm playful, so he thought these paintings are not what you should be making. 

Glen Nelson:                  I don't think it diminishes your work to suggest that it has strong connections to other artists who have gone before you. If you can imagine a family tree of art, I can kind of see two branches of your artistic genealogy. One is Contemporary Outsider Art and the other is a string of fine arts in the early 20th century who were trying to explore a new kind of imagery based on based on dreams, and the works of children, and the mentally institutionalized. Do you think that your work has some connections to those groups? 

Annie Poon:                  I feel like my work is related to children's work in that the technique is very spontaneous and raw, and it's just based on the games that I would play as a kid. We would entertain ourselves with paper. It was cheap. It was malleable. It was something that was versatile. You could actually. You can make anything out of paper if you're drawing. And then Outsider Art because in a way I feel so different. I'm probably not different, but having mental illness issues, I really relate to a lot of outsider artists because a lot of them had that same predicament, and these extreme emotional states that I get into, it seems like most outsider artists also get into that state when they're making art. 

Glen Nelson:                  Yeah, exactly. I mean, we're sitting at this table and one of your etchings is here with us. It's called El Sueño (The Dream). Can you kind of describe what's in it, for people who are listening can't see it, of course. So what's what's in it? There's a girl...

Annie Poon:                  There's a girl and she has her eyes closed, and she's surrounded by little dogs that are attacking her barking at her, and then the outskirts of the painting have a threatening sky in the bottom, it turns into this kind of inky darkness. It's just sort of scraped into the plate, and the reasons she has her eyes closed is because this is happening in her mind. So whenever you see a little girl that represents me with her eyes closed is because she's envisioning it. Maybe she's imagining it. 

Glen Nelson:                  There's some text in Spanish written into the top. What is it? "El sueño de razon produce los perros." 

Annie Poon:                  Right.

Glen Nelson:                  What is that in English?

Annie Poon:                  "The dream of reason produces dogs." So this is related to the Goya etching, "The Dream of Reason Produces Monsters," and I always loved that etching, and so here instead of having bats and owls like in the Goya painting, it's just got the dogs. 

Glen Nelson:                  Francisco Goya in 1799 printed a suite of 80 prints called "Los Caprichos," and it's mostly a satire and critique of society, but every once in awhile in that series there are some works that are really connected to this--he's dealing with dreams and fear. There's one work, this "The Sleep of Reasons Produces Monsters," Number 43. I would love to have that and hang it next to "El Sueño." I think they would be great together. Don't you think? So where did your image come from? Is it a direct homage to Goya or is it something with some other imagery that you had been working on? 

Annie Poon:                  It wasn't really related to anything. I mean, when you look at the image, it does look like a reference to Goya. But when I was making it, I was just.., I was feeling overwhelmed. I was feeling afraid, and this is the image that came out. I didn't really plan it, but then when I finished the image, I realized that it did have a lot in common with Goya. So that's why I titled it that.

Glen Nelson:                  I want to talk about a man named Hans Prinzhorn who was born in 1886 and died in 1933. He was a German psychiatrist and art historian. And as I understand it, he spent a lot of time in his casework in mental institutions, and he collected artworks that people in the hospitals were making. And ultimately he published a book called "The Plastic Activity of the Mentally Ill"--and it has a really long a subtitle. The thing that struck me about this work is its influence on a whole generation of artists who would come directly after him. So I'm thinking of Jean Dubuffet and the Art Brut crowd who were making art in a kind of a raw style. Do you feel that you have a connection to this kind of overlapping sensibility? 

Annie Poon:                  I'm trained in painting, I have a lot of art historical understanding, but like these patients, I really relate to them because of their use of limited materials, was one thing that I found really interesting. A lot of them would--and I'm not saying specifically the ones in this institution that Prinzhorn worked in--but a lot of them would use materials like chewed-up bread, matchsticks, bubblegum, buttons. One institutionalized artist, Frank Jones, who is my hero, he would use ledger pencils. So like these little tiny red pencils and blue pencils that were available to him from the guards. So, yeah, I really relate to the artists and the outsider art museum and the collection of Art Brut that Dubuffet started, which is now in Lausanne. And actually last summer I went to Switzerland just to see this museum that Dubuffet had put together of Outsider Art.

Glen Nelson:                  Jones is an interesting guy. We'll talk about him in a few minutes. But from what I understand, he started that with this blue and red ledger pencils, and then later as he kind of got some recognition, some people tried to influence him and brought all of these other additional colors, and he didn't want anything to do with it; it meant something to him, just these two colors. 

Annie Poon:                  Right. The yellow represented smoke, and the red represented fire. And in my work I just use black and white. And those two... that polarity really reflects my mental state of this joy versus being terrified--so the swinging back and forth between those two states. So that's why in my work you'll see childlike glee and some of them, and then in other ones you have flames and smoke and burning: so it's really sort of a bipolar body of work. 

Glen Nelson:                  I had never really spent too much time understanding the art of the mentally ill and these early 20th century influences, but it makes perfect sense to me now because when Freud was doing his work, artists immediately seized on that as a new vein of expression because suddenly they could take their dreams and their nightmares and they created Surrealism out of that. They created this whole new way of exploring what their experience had been, and I think with Prinzhorn, a similar thing happened, where these trained fine artists said, "We can take some of the techniques and affects of these institutionalized artists and create our own work out of them." So I mean, I think that's kind of cool. The Art Brut crowd--Raw Art is how that's sometimes translated--seemed to be really... you know, their work is... it's almost... there's a.. I don't want to say ugly, but it's not aspiring to be traditionally beautiful.

Annie Poon:                  Right.

Glen Nelson:                  It's part of its power, I think. 

Annie Poon:                  Yeah, and Dubuffet loved that about it. So he would create these muddy textures, and he would use tar...

Glen Nelson:                  Sand...

Annie Poon:                  Sand, yeah, and all these things, and it just goes back to what I was saying before about the materials being so important. This one artist that I love, Madge Gill, she would just make these ballpoint pen swirls and drawings, and she would get into like this trance. She was a spiritualist. She was just known for these ballpoint scrawls and scribbles, and they're some of my favorite works of Outsider Art. So in my work I try to limit it to just one or two materials: scissors, sharpie and paper, and that's it, and I feel like that lends itself to being more playful and more spontaneous. 

Glen Nelson:                  This quest for spirituality is part of the art movement that Kandinsky was exploring with Der Blaue Reiter in Germany right before World War I, so they were also doing a similar thing where they... Their work was much more colorful, but it had at its heart this idea of exploring some things that they had not previously been able to explore, and in their case they used abstraction for the first time in a sustained way. But World War I kind of ended that. A lot of these artists, particularly the German artists, went to war and a great number of them never came back, and nearly all of those who did come back had severe breakdowns and were either unable to paint or their work was so radically changed after that they didn't want to go back to this quest for spiritualism. 

Annie Poon:                  Yeah.

Glen Nelson:                  When you were in school, did you study some of these [outsider] artists ? 

Annie Poon:                  I never did. I never learned anything about them. I don't think that they're in the traditional textbooks for some reason. We don't learn about them in art school. 

Glen Nelson:                  I mean, from what you've told me--we've known each other for quite some time--you spent a lot of time in museums though, growing up.

Annie Poon:                  Right. The painting that first inspired me was a painting of Napoleon rearing on his horse, and I just remember I was the height of the horse's haunches, and so I stared at the way that the fur was painted on the horse's haunch, and that was when I thought, I'm going to be a painter someday. I want to do something just like that. So it's really a far, far journey to go from that painting being my main inspiration to now. 

Glen Nelson:                  How old were you? 

Annie Poon:                  I was five. 

Glen Nelson:                  I mean, do you feel like you have something in common with Goya, and Art Brut, and Dubuffet? 

Annie Poon:                  I can't be specific about the connection, but I know that the art fair that matters to me most and that I make sure to go to every year is the Outsider Art Fair. When I go there, I feel like there's a little trapdoor that opens in the top of my brain and all these sort of twisting, writhing, strange influences will crawl in and in fact, the first couple of years when I went to that art fair, I actually had to leave after seeing the first two shows, the first two exhibits because I felt like I felt like I wasn't strong enough to take it all in. I connected so much with it that I felt like my mind was coming unhinged, and I actually skipped it. 

Glen Nelson:                  So that's not the same reaction you have when you're in a museum, like a fine art museum? 

Annie Poon:                  No. When I go into a fine art museum, I just want to read the wall text and I want to, you know, try to get the names of the painters before I look at the sign. 

Glen Nelson:                  I do the same thing.

Annie Poon:                  So it's more of a less-brain activity than when I go to the outsider art museum.

Glen Nelson:                  I asked you in advance about a few people that that made it some kind of difference to you. So I have five of these people, who are easily Google-able: Bill Traylor, Henry Darger, Nellie Mae Rowe, Frank Jones, and Howard Finster. The things that are attractive to me about them is how their stories kind of overlap. Like there's some really some commonalities here. So I know it'll be a lot of me talking for the next two minutes, but chime in whenever, whenever. 

Annie Poon:                  Okay.

Glen Nelson:                  So Bill Traylor was born a slave in 1853 in Alabama, and he didn't start painting until age 85. He was homeless and living on the streets and the sidewalks of Montgomery. He started creating artworks and just passing them out. But his were all... they were these ripped up pieces of cardboard, and he would draw his memories of being a slave. Isn't that kind of amazing? And he was not discovered during his lifetime. There's a real flatness to his work. It's almost like you could just take a take scissors around the outside of these images and kind of put them... 

Annie Poon:                  They're almost all... they look like silhouettes.

Glen Nelson:                  But now his work is owned by everybody. 

Annie Poon:                  I think he's the most sought after Outsider Artist today. 

Glen Nelson:                  Yeah. He died in 1949, and his works are in the Smithsonian and in the American Folk Museum, but also in fine art museums all over the place. The works are almost like cave drawings. 

Annie Poon:                  They are. They look like they're the horses in Lascaux, like you said, like they're just going to guide us to the hunt. 

Glen Nelson:                  He didn't start painting until age 85, and I can't imagine that he had a lot of training. I mean he was a sharecropper, so that's one name. Henry Darger is another. He was born in 1892 and died in 1973, and he was from Illinois, and he created several hundred drawings and watercolor paintings illustrating this story. He worked in a hospital during the day. Here's some of his images [images shared]. 

Annie Poon:                  Right.

Glen Nelson:                  Aren't they so fascinating? He worked in a hospital during the day, and posthumously it was discovered that he had written this fantasy novel and the manuscript was 15,000 pages, single spaced. 

Annie Poon:                  I saw a movie about this, and there was one man who's actually read the entire thing. It was his quest, and I remember the stack of books that contain this novel came up to this man's waist, at least. 

Glen Nelson:                  He was also very religious. He went to a Catholic boy's home after his..., I think his parents both passed away, and so throughout his life he went to mass daily and sometimes would go to mass as many as five times a day. And so this quest of spirituality was part of his reason for painting. So that's Henry Darger. I had never heard of Nellie Mae Rowe before, R-O-W-E. She was born in 1900 and lived to 1982. These artists just lived a long time. 

Annie Poon:                  And a lot of them started making their work not only when they were retirement age, but when they were expire-ment age. 

Glen Nelson:                  Exactly. The thing that struck me about looking at her work are all of these hand-sewn dolls...

Annie Poon:                  That is the... I always thought if I went to Grad School, my dissertation will be on her dolls. I think that most people don't know about her dolls, and I saw an exhibit one time in the Dallas, in the Kimball Museum of Art of her dolls included in there and they just..., I love them, because I make dolls.

Glen Nelson:                  Were hers made out of cloth? Were they sewn together, or were they made out of clay?

Annie Poon:                  Some of them were made out of chewed-up bubblegum. Some of them were made out of cloth. 

Glen Nelson:                  She described this elaborately-decorated cottage and house in her backyard as her "playhouse." And so for her, creating artwork was playtime, and I can see some of that in your making of dolls. 

Annie Poon:                  Right.

Glen Nelson:                  Yeah. Again, she was another one who was deeply spiritual, religiously Christian. And she said on one of her canvases, "Believe in God and he will make a way for you." Now this guy, I know has a soft spot in your heart: Frank Jones. So he died in 1969. They don't know exactly when he was born in Texas, but it's around 1900, and the thing that strikes me in his work are "haints." What is a haint? 

Annie Poon:                  He would call his ghosts, his hallucinations, haints. Sometimes he would call them haunts, but basically they were just these animals and ghosts that he would see when he went into these trances. He was born with a membrane over one of his eyes, and people think that... in his cultural tradition, people would tell him, this is what is enabling you to have these hallucinations. You're going to be a visionary man. 

Glen Nelson:                  Right, I think that's a belief of West Africa that transferred over to African Americans in the South that he could foresee the future as well, a kind of a double-sightedness, he said. His story is sad, though. He spent the majority of his life in prison, and scholars today are arguing that it's possible that all three of those convictions were trumped-up charges. 

Annie Poon:                  Very Sad. He spent almost all of his life in prison. 

Glen Nelson:                  His artwork was made during only a span of five years, from 1964 to his death in 1969. So again, he came to art really, late and his works... I have some images for us to look at here [images shared]. They're almost like... I mean, how would you describe them? A lot of these are... it looks like houses or...

Annie Poon:                  Yeah, it's like a doll house. They're just these cross sections of all these rooms, and each room has a little spirit in it, or two. There are these haints that are... each one gets his own little room. 

Glen Nelson:                  He said he created these almost to imprison these spirits. 

Annie Poon:                  I covet of it his work.

Glen Nelson:                  You do?

Glen Nelson:                  And I went to the last Outsider Art Fair, I said, "How much is a Frank Jones?" And I thought that they had said 3,000. I was excited, and then I realized that it said 30,000 for one of his drawings. 

Glen Nelson:                  It has been really interesting to see the acceptance of Outsider Art in the art world. Just a few decades ago when I started looking at these things, they were not popular at all. I mean, the story goes that Alfred Barr, the first first artistic director of the Museum of Modern Art and its founder wanted to buy some of these Outsider Art works for a dollar each. 

Annie Poon:                  What?

Glen Nelson:                  Yeah.

Annie Poon:                  Which?

Glen Nelson:                  I think they were Traylors. I can't remember the story. And so the people who were bringing those works to him said, "Drop dead, like no way." And then the fifth of these Outsider Artists that I wanted to mention was Howard Finster.

Annie Poon:                  My favorite. 

Glen Nelson:                  I thought you said that Jones was your favorite. 

Annie Poon:                  Well, okay, I have two favorites.

Glen Nelson:                  He was born in 1916--again from the south, he's from Georgia--and died in 2001. Now his story has quite a lot to do with religion. He said he had his first vision at the age of three years old, and that he had seen his sister walking out of the sky, and she said, "Howard, you're going to be a man of vision." So he became a born again, preacher-- Baptist--at the age of 13, and began to preach at age 16, and started writing articles for newspapers, and he became a pastor, and he retired from preaching in 1965, and then he focused all of his time on art and created sacred art. In one of his visions, he said a voice has spoken to him and said, "Paint sacred art." And so he often took the bible and create artworks that were kind of covered with text. They had bible verses in them.

Annie Poon:                  And he signed his work, "Howard Finster, man of visions."

Glen Nelson:                  So here, we're looking at a couple of these images now [images shared]. 

Annie Poon:                  My favorite image by Howard Finster is an image of a boat with a man. You'll see something tied to his neck and it said that were better for him, that a millstone were hung around his neck and he basically drowned in the bottom of the sea than he offended one of these little ones--so it comes from that scripture, but that used to hang in the Folk Art Museum, which was next to the MoMA. Unfortunately that museum's closed down, but I have three Howard Finsters on my desk, and they're not going anywhere! I look at them every day. They inspire me. They're cutouts. He did a lot of cutout work where he would cut out these characters like Elvis or angels and cut them out of wood, and then he would decorate them with sharpies and with glitter and he was working in Athens, Georgia. A friend of mine went there and visited him. I guess really were acquaintances. That's how I got mine was he gave them to her. He made the for her. Yeah. 

Glen Nelson:                  Oh really? I thought you meant that you had like a postcard or... 

Annie Poon:                  I have these cutouts by Howard Finster. 

Glen Nelson:                  Okay, thieves take note. We'll track down her address later and pay her a midnight visit. He also kind of crossed over into pop culture when Talking Heads and REM--I think it was--created album covers using his work. That was certainly a moment when Outsider Art was suddenly seen as something that was embraced by a much broader group of people, right? 

Annie Poon:                  The Outsider Art Fairs have only been going on since 1993. 

Glen Nelson:                  Let's now talk about your own work a little bit. You've created a recent work called, "This Is How I Spend My Time," and it's about two minutes and 45 seconds, something like that. So we're going to do an experiment and I'm not entirely sure this is going to work, but this is what we're going to do. We're going to watch this together and just describe what it is that's happening. All right, so listeners will be able to hear the soundtrack which you created. Is that right? Okay. Alright. And we'll kind of explain what's going on and then when it's done we'll be able to kind of talk about it and figure out what's in it. All right, here we go [video played, see https://vimeo.com/262074597]

Glen Nelson:                  Blank sheet of paper and a sharpie. You're just drawing musical staves. And then you are creating measures and then there's this little girl. Who is that? 

Annie Poon:                  It's my sister. She's my bandmate, Taylor. 

Glen Nelson:                  And as it moves, it bounces around on the musical score. Then notes appear underneath it. 

Annie Poon:                  Like karaoke.

Glen Nelson:                  And then there are these six ghosts. Do you describe them as ghosts?

Annie Poon:                  Yes, good and bad ghosts. 

Glen Nelson:                  Three black, three white ghosst and they've kind of moved into a dark forest now and then there's a hut. What is that? 

Annie Poon:                  The Candy House from Hansel and Gretel. 

Glen Nelson:                  And a finger opens it and you see the inside of this hut, and there's a young girl who's ironing the ghosts? 

Annie Poon:                  Yes, they're just a regular part of her life. She has to keep them clean. 

Glen Nelson:                  They're flat. So that's good. Now it kind of gets to a new scene where there are these sort of demonic figures that are playing around with time and clocks. 

Annie Poon:                  Right. When you're scared in the middle of the night, time shrinks and stretches.

Glen Nelson:                  And there's a hot thing that was poured over...

Annie Poon:                  It's like tar, melting the entire scene. 

Glen Nelson:                  So now these ghosts are playing musical instruments. Why are they doing that? 

Annie Poon:                  She's making them her slaves.

Glen Nelson:                  She's in a conductor's uniform now, and they seem pretty happy. It's getting late. The candles are burning low, and then she's off to bed. I see some zzz's coming out of her mouth. 

Annie Poon:                  The night starts off in an ordinary way. Then she starts hearing noises. The floor is creaking more than usual. 

Glen Nelson:                  And these ghosts are kind of messing with her, they're throwing paper at her, they're making sounds, playing with the blinds... 

Annie Poon:                  All these ordinary sounds, but they're just amped up times 1000. 

Glen Nelson:                  And they're chasing her with a pot making sounds, and now she's chasing them with a pot. And then here's the girl, and her head is opened up, and they take her brain and kind of put it through a grinder of some kind? 

Annie Poon:                  When I'm having a horrible night, my brain feels like spaghetti. So they're making spaghetti out of her brain. 

Glen Nelson:                  Ok. And then what are these things? 

Annie Poon:                  They're just the little ghost garnishes on the pasta. 

Glen Nelson:                  And so you see the inside of her body now, and these ghosts are where her ribs are, and now they have mallets, and they're playing her ribs like a xylophone. 

Annie Poon:                  She's becoming friendly with them.

Glen Nelson:                  And now she's dancing to the music. 

Annie Poon:                  She's incorporated them into her joy, into her existence. They've been making sounds inside of her, and now she's dancing to complement them. 

Glen Nelson:                  And that's the end of the movie. "Music by Annie Poon." Tell me about the music, first. Where did that come from? 

Annie Poon:                  Well, this started out as a piece about the creative process of writing music, and that's why you see the musical staves at the beginning. But then as I got into the movie, these ghosts started coming up--like I said, it was stream of consciousness--and suddenly instead of "this is how am I spend my time," meaning "I make music," it became, "this is how I spend a night when I'm untreated for my symptoms," "this is how I spend my time worrying about these ghosts and trying to shut them out or control them" or, you know, survive the night, basically. 

Glen Nelson:                  Yeah. I mean, there's a playfulness here, but there's a sort of ominousness to them as well.

Annie Poon:                  Right. It looks like a comedy, but if you hear the story behind it, it's a little scary. 

Glen Nelson:                  Right. How does this work connect to "The Split House"? 

Annie Poon:                  "The Split House" was a little bit more of a woe-is-me movie: I've experienced these traumas, and I'm conquering the blackness, and religion is pulling me out of it. But this one... people asked me, "Well, what are you going to do after The Split House?" And I thought, well I can't follow it up with anything serious. I've kind of drained myself of seriousness, so now I'm just going to play. So it has the same themes--the black and white, the torment in the dark scene--but this one doesn't have any that, more... I don't know how to say it. It doesn't have that serious feeling. 

Glen Nelson:                  It's like the best comedians, you know, at the heart of them, there's something serious going on. They're talking about pain and real life, and they're just putting a spin on it so people will listen and they can feel connected, like as part of their story, too. 

Annie Poon:                  Right. I don't want to bring people down, but I don't want to have to stop talking about the things that are important to me. So I just have to find a new way to make it fresh and new way to present it. Just a new spin. 

Glen Nelson:                  Yeah. In 2016, you created an etching called "Los Negros," and it has some of these images that are the same ones in this new film of yours, these kind of demonic little characters. Are these characters kind of reoccurring in your stories or...

Annie Poon:                  Yes, because they're recurring in my life. 

Glen Nelson:                  I remember when I asked you when that print was new, I said, "Where does this come from?" Because I was thinking that maybe it was a dream or maybe it was, you know, you're imagining things, and you made some kind of comment that, "No, this is what I see sometimes in my house."

Annie Poon:                  Right. It's interesting. Some things I do see, some things with my eyes closed I sense and I know they're there in my mind. I don't have to actually see them with my eyes. I do see things with my eyes, but these guys, even with my eyes closed and my arms covering my head, I can still see them in my mind, and these ghosts actually are a product of something that I saw as a kid when I saw the movie, "Ghost." There's a scene at the end where the criminal dies, he dies by being impaled with glass, and then you see these black ghosts rise up out of the sewer and come and drag him down and seeing that forever affected me, and so now that's what comes into my mind when I'm having these episodes. 

Glen Nelson:                  You brought with you a bunch of etchings that are connected to the scriptures-- specifically LDS scriptures--and the first thing I want to ask you is why etchings? Like, why not just draw them? 

Annie Poon:                  Why etchings? Because I took a printmaking class when I was in BYU, and we actually had a plate that was James Christensen's etching plate, and I printed off of it, and I was completely mesmerized by printing an image off of this copper plate. And I always wanted to get back to it. I remember it was a picture of a fairy that I printed. I always wanted to get back to printmaking. I always wanted to get back to etching. Etching is more satisfactory to me because when you do a drawing, it just seems too easy. It's over in a second and I don't know, what is it worth to me--it just took me one second to do--but when I spent three days making one simple image as an etching, I value it more for some reason. 

Glen Nelson:                  Really? I thought that you were going to say the opposite thing. I thought you were going say that you were attracted to the idea that from an etching you could create multiple works based on it, so it'd be easier to generate. 

Annie Poon:                  No, I would love to just create one and use that process. It's the process of stop motion. It's the process of etching. That's what draws me to it. 

Glen Nelson:                  You are not the easy-route kind of artist. Okay. So these images that we're looking at--you brought a bunch, and I've just selected maybe a half dozen to talk about. Again, it's a little challenging if you're just listening, but I think you can get the gist of it if we do a good job of explaining. All of these are from the Book of Mormon, these first ones that we're looking at. So this one from Ether has this warrior, how would you describe it? What we're looking at? 

Annie Poon:                  He's bloodthirsty. He's got his serrated axe. He's got his skull as a helmet with a bullet wound through it. He's wearing only a loin cloth. His weapon is dripping with blood. It's Shiz. 

Glen Nelson:                  You did this video a few years ago... What was it called? 

Annie Poon:                  "Die Wicked Die."

Glen Nelson:                  "Die Wicked Die." Wasn't that connected to this? 

Annie Poon:                  Yeah, he was in there. It was about when holy men are called to take out wicked men. So there was this battle. There are all these battles in the scriptures where these prophets... Nephi is commanded to cut off the head of Laban. And I made a whole series of videos based on these types of episodes. 

Glen Nelson:                  Now all of these artworks have a scriptural reference etched into them, and most of them have some kind of title that also comes from the scriptures. I'm looking at one here from Esther...

Annie Poon:                  Ether.

Glen Nelson:                  I'm sorry. Yeah. Esther would be a whole other book, wouldn't it? 

Annie Poon:                  I'm getting to Esther.

Glen Nelson:                  You're working on it. The sequel? Yeah. "Ether 6: 29 The Brother of Jared Dies," and it's the most beautiful image of the brother of Jared yard is dead, and he's on some kind of...

Annie Poon:                  A funeral bier.

Glen Nelson:                  Funeral bier. And remember the stones of that were touched by the hand of God and glowed. Those are perched up on these little twisted branches. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12 of them. Nice. And so they're a little bit taller than he is laying down and then they glow. 

Annie Poon:                  It looked like wands with a stone glowing on the top. They're just sort of stuck into the ground all around him, like this little glowing fence. 

Glen Nelson:                  Yeah, completely beautiful. Okay. This one is just adorable to me, "2 Nephi 33: 13 Crying from the Dust," and it's a cross section of the earth. So there's a girl who has her ear to the ground and underneath it she hears, well, what is it that you imagine she's hearing? 

Annie Poon:                  She's hearing whispers and then saying "saa, saa, saa." And the ground is actually made to look like a cross section of skin. 

Glen Nelson:                  Oh, okay, cool. 

Annie Poon:                  So it's the skin of the earth, and there's a skeleton who's gripping a pencil and writing a record from the earth. 

Glen Nelson:                  Now this one's called "Burning Man, Mosiah 17: 18." And this one has a more extended excerpt from the scripture: "You shall be hunted and then you shall suffer as I suffered the pains of death by fire." This has a sort of Native American feel to me. What's going on in this image? 

Annie Poon:                  So there's a Lamanite chasing King Noah, and Noah is on fire, and it looks like one of the Indian ledger drawings where they would draw these Plains Indians in battle. And so I drew one of these Plains Indians actually hunting King Noah, who's running in flames. 

Glen Nelson:                  Your work does have a connection to that too, doesn't it? To the Plains Indians' works?

Annie Poon:                  Yeah.

Glen Nelson:                  This image called "Pen." Can you describe what it is? 

Annie Poon:                  This one is inspired by tattoo art. I think it's... is it Mormon? Moroni?... , saying if I have no authority, judge ye, for ye shall know that I have authority when you see me. And there's this flaming skull, and when I draw this man holding a pen, but he's actually a glowing and flaming skull, the fire represents the glory of God and the power of the glory of God, but to the wicked, the glory of God is terrifying. That's why this skull looks so scary. 

Glen Nelson:                  Yeah. It has a sort of Dia de los Muertos kind of feel to it. Is that a stretch or is that possible? 

Annie Poon:                  It could. It could. 

Glen Nelson:                  Yeah. The last of the images that we're going to talk about is called "Burning Babies."

Annie Poon:                  I'm going to change the tile to "Ember Babies."

Glen Nelson:                  Okay. From "3 Nephi 17: 24, And They Were Encircled about with Fire," and unlike the other drawings with a lot of tonal shifts from dark to light, this looks like a more ancient work, like a woodcut or something. 

Annie Poon:                  This one is actually called a sugar lift, where you paint the plate with sugar and then when you pour boiling water over it, it exposes the plate in a certain way. So this image is basically just a painting with these kind of rough black brush strokes.

Glen Nelson:                  And so can you describe these babies? 

Annie Poon:                  So it's this group of four babies, and they're made to look like little glowing embers. They're surrounded by fire, and this is the scene where the angels came down and ministered unto the children and they were surrounded by columns of fire.

Glen Nelson:                  If I had told somebody, "Oh, I found this new artist and she's LDS, and she's making these works based on passages of scripture," my guess is that their first thought would be that these would be illustrational, that they would be traditional. But these works are not like that. 

Annie Poon:                  No, I'm bored by those types of images. 

Glen Nelson:                  The difference for me is these are funny, like there's "funny" in here, but I also like that they feel authentic to me because I see you putting yourself into these works. Is it a way that you're kind of meditating on the scriptures? Is that a process of you figuring out what the scriptures mean to you? 

Annie Poon:                  Yes. What I do is every morning I get out one of my little black moleskin sketchbooks, I go kneel right next to the couch, and I say a specific prayer. I say, "Heavenly Father, please help me to inspire others and help me to inspire myself." And then I read a chapter on my phone. I highlight the verses that I find interesting, and then I go back, I pick one verse, I close my eyes and I think, "What if I was writing this scripture about myself?" And then after, you know, half a minute or so, an image will pop to mind that relates to me. I'm not illustrating that scripture. I'm illustrating my life, my experiences. 

Glen Nelson:                  So when it says to "liken the scriptures unto us," that's what you're doing in an artistic way. 

Annie Poon:                  Exactly, and trying to get other people to get inspired to do that, too. 

Glen Nelson:                  The tone of them is curious because it's a very delicate balance. You know, there's a sweetness to them, but there's a darkness to them; and they're funny, but they're honest. Although when I say "funny," I don't want to overemphasize... They're not comedic. I don't see that, necessarily, but sometimes it seems to me that you're kind of playing on expectations and subverting it a little bit to make it fresh.

Annie Poon:                  I would say "zany" is a common thread through my work. 

Glen Nelson:                  Yeah, they're faithful. It's obvious that you are believing in these scriptures. There's nothing arch about them, but they seem to refuse to be generic. 

Annie Poon:                  Thank you. 

Glen Nelson:                  So that balance is not easy to pull off. Is that something that came easy to you, or was that something that you had to cultivate--how to present the scriptures in a way that would be interesting to other people, but satisfying to yourself?

Annie Poon:                  It was really difficult. I have these 14 sketchbooks full of my scripture drawings, and in the first couple of sketchbooks, most of the chapters were just these really rough kind of ideas, but they weren't visually strong. I didn't really know even what I was trying to say in them. And then by the time I'm on my 15th sketchbook, the images are just popping into my mind, and I've formed so many themes throughout--visually, this visual vocabulary--that now I'm being able to use this familiar vocabulary when I draw my scripture sketches. I have themes that I already know I'm looking for certain things in the scriptures. I already know my way... I can't really explain. 

Glen Nelson:                  No, I think that's perfect. I mean it's funny--when I talk with artists, to articulate something verbally is not something that they normally do. Like their job is to, if they're writing music, to write music, to put it that way. And yours is imagery, a different way. So it doesn't surprise me that sometimes it's hard to figure out and to explain to other people how and why those things are created, but it's clear to anybody who sees them that there is something... that they're deeply felt. So the scriptures, then did you start with the Book of Mormon? 

Annie Poon:                  I started with Book of Mormon. 

Glen Nelson:                  And about how many--these are all etchings--and editions of like what number? 

Annie Poon:                  Eight.

Glen Nelson:                  Just eight? Wow! That's a lot of work. 

Annie Poon:                  Okay. Well, I wasn't still facing the copper plates, and so after eight prints, the plate was already degrading. I had to stop. 

Glen Nelson:                  So about how many images did you create, Book of Mormon images? 

Annie Poon:                  The Book of Mormon has 339 (about) chapters, so I probably created about three times that many just to get the Book of Mormon illustrated. 

Glen Nelson:                  Oh, my goodness! Really?

Annie Poon:                  Yeah, I have my first couple of sketchbooks where I went through the whole thing and then I have many sketchbooks where I was going back and honing those images. 

Glen Nelson:                  How long of a period are we talking about of your...? These are dedicated, daily work to the Book of Mormon. How long was the period altogether? 

Annie Poon:                  Sketches? They took several months to do the whole Book of Mormon, but then since then, I've created over a thousand images from the scriptures. and now I'm becoming more precise where it takes me less times to get a good image.

Glen Nelson:                  So with the Book of Mormon images again, so that big number of images is in your sketchbooks, and then you would choose which of those to make into prints, or were they all made into prints? 

Annie Poon:                  Once I finished illustrating the entire Book of Mormon, then I went back, and I picked the fifty strongest images, and those are the ones that are made into prints. 

Glen Nelson:                  Okay. Then after the Book of Mormon, did you move to another book of scriptures? 

Annie Poon:                  Yeah, I couldn't stop. I mean, my scripture study has been so improved since I started doing it this way that I just couldn't stop, and now I've done the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and I'm on to the bible.

Glen Nelson:                  Are you creating about the same number of prints in each of these books of scripture? 

Annie Poon:                  I'm not going to be making etchings from these. I'm actually making these beautiful drawings on printmaking paper with calligraphy nibs. 

Glen Nelson:                  These drawings are roughly--what is it, six inches, six and a half inches square?

Annie Poon:                  No, more than eight inches square.

Glen Nelson:                  And I'm looking at one here from Abraham 3: 12 "And He Put His Hands upon Mine Eyes and I Saw Those Things Which His Hands Had Made and I Could Not See the End Thereof." And then there's an image of a woman whose eyes are veiled by hands of an unknown source, and kind of a cosmic bunch of planets and stars and things entangled into her hair.

Annie Poon:                  Yeah, planets stuck in her hair. 

Glen Nelson:                  So now tell me about this process of drawing, again. You said it's pen and ink with calligraphy...

Annie Poon:                  The mapmaking nibs, and then it's on this beautiful, soft printmaking paper.

Glen Nelson:                  With beautiful, deckled edges. For Christmas, you sent me something, a card. I think it was this...

Annie Poon:                  I'll show you.

Glen Nelson:                  This one. So then in addition to drawings, you made some kind of prints out of them?

Annie Poon:                  Now I've only done drawings. The one I gave you was a larger drawing of the same image.

Glen Nelson:                  It's a drawing? I thought it was a... I couldn't tell. 

Annie Poon:                  No, it's a drawing. People think they're prints because they're so precise, but I do them very slowly, and I do them again and again if they're not working. 

Glen Nelson:                  Because there's a lot of precision here even though it's not like a lot of cross hatching, a lot of shading, but because it's a single line, it is actually quite exposed, and you know, you'd see any error there. 

Annie Poon:                  People like the linear quality to my work, and I had a drawing teacher back when I was a student who absolutely refused to let us do cross hatching or those fuzzy hairy lines that we do so much when we're drawing the figure, and he taught us to basically draw everything as if it were a cartoon. So that's where the linear qualities of my work comes from. 

Glen Nelson:                  Okay. There are a few modern artists who have sort of followed along with that--Matisse comes to mind, Ellsworth Kelly...

Annie Poon:                  John Lennon.

Glen Nelson:                  Are those are those artists that appeal to you? 

Annie Poon:                  John Lennon. 

Glen Nelson:                  Cool. Two years ago I had the privilege--I really think it's a highlight of my artistic life...

Annie Poon:                  Mine, too. Mine, too.

Glen Nelson:                  That's nice of you to say--of a curating a show of yours. It was your first commercial gallery show? 

Annie Poon:                  It was my first solo show.

Glen Nelson:                  And it was called "The Split House," when this film was exhibited the first time, but it was more than that. It was all these objects that went into it. There were these vitrines that had soft furniture sculptures in them, a series of watercolors, and paintings rather, of clocks and some of your cartoons of Puppy, who's a delightful alter ego. 

Annie Poon:                  I didn't realized the clocks connection until just now. 

Glen Nelson:                  What? What's the connection? 

Annie Poon:                  "This Is How I Spend My Time." It's all about time and clocks, and just waiting for time to pass. 

Glen Nelson:                  They were acrylic on paper?

Annie Poon:                  Yeah, cuckoo clocks.

Glen Nelson:                  Cuckoo clocks that were these ornate...

Annie Poon:                  Black Forest...

Glen Nelson:                  Black Forest clocks that had your, you know, your Annie-ness in them. But in this exhibition which was in 2016, you were wrestling with the idea of should you discuss to the press and the public your own mental health as it was depicted in the film, and ultimately you said, "Yeah, I think I'm just going to do it." And I think the interview you gave was the BYU Daily Universe or something like that. But I remember there was a young woman who came to the opening. Do you remember this? 

Annie Poon:                  Which?

Glen Nelson:                  I don't know, she just came into..., she came into the gallery. She looked kind of nervous and anxious, almost like she had never been in a gallery before, and she spent quite a lot of time watching the film, but she started crying. 

Annie Poon:                  Ahh.

Glen Nelson:                  Yeah. And she said that she struggled with the same things that she was watching on film, and more than that, she was really grateful that she could now explain to the people who love her, what it was like. Before, she couldn't do that. That must be a satisfying thing for you to have that kind of response.

Annie Poon:                  It's mostly women that have that kind of response. Actually, a few people have had that type of response, and I think it's because we keep these types of things so secret, and it hurts after a while to be bottling this up. And then for me, I also had a similar experience. I saw on BYU-TV in between conference sessions, they interviewed a woman who has schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, which is what I have. And seeing her on tv, it was such a relief to me to see that. I've never met someone with that, and to meet someone over seeing her on TV, I felt like I was meeting her and I felt like I had friends. 

Glen Nelson:                  If for nothing else, art is great at that. Having somebody who's somewhat isolated, can put their work out there somehow, and other people see themselves in that work, and it kind of changes their identity. You brought with you something that I kind of hoping that you'll forget to take with you. I'm going to describe this box. It's 12 inches high and maybe eight inches wide and probably five inches deep, and it's a box that has a hinged lid, and inside is a little thumb drive that has a picture of the girl in the film. What is on the thumb drive? 

Annie Poon:                  The movie, "This Is How I Spend My Time." This is what people who want to buy the movie will get, is this box of fun. 

Glen Nelson:                  How many of these did you make? 

Annie Poon:                  This is the first one. They're going to be five. 

Glen Nelson:                  Five, okay. So it's an editioned multiple in a sense, then.

Annie Poon:                  Yeah.

Glen Nelson:                  Okay. So inside is this soft sculpture of one of these kind of ghosts.

Annie Poon:                  Right. It looks like a big black banana.

Glen Nelson:                  It does. With hands, and you've embroidered eyes and a kind of a jagged mouth. Oh my goodness. On the back it says, "This is how I spend my time," and you make these yourself?

Annie Poon:                  Yeah, this is made from my art school graduation robe. 

Glen Nelson:                  What is that?

Annie Poon:                  This is the black gown that I wore when I graduated. I saved the fabric and this is what it's made of.

Glen Nelson:                  You're kidding! Okay. There's a black velvet bag inside, and I feel like if I reach in here, I'm going to get attacked by something. Alright, inside... Oh, these are so adorable... The covet factor is through the roof, Annie. These are buttons? 

Annie Poon:                  Coat buttons. 

Glen Nelson:                  Coat buttons. They're handmade out of some kind of clay.

Annie Poon:                  Out of Fimo clay. It's like Sculpey. 

Glen Nelson:                  And then it hardens?

Annie Poon:                  I baked it.

Glen Nelson:                  And on the front of them, on the surface of them, are clock faces, and they all say 10:00, and that's from the film. 

Annie Poon:                  To make the shape of these buttons, I took one of those little bubble palettes that you put your paint in, and I squished the clay down into that little circle, and that's how I got this nice shape. 

Glen Nelson:                  And then at the base of this box... I'm not going to untie the bow because I'm so bad at retiring bows. But you have the, what is it? The lyrics of the song? 

Annie Poon:                  No, it's a poem I had written many years ago. 

Glen Nelson:                  Do you want to read it? 

Glen Nelson:                  Sure. This is a poem that I wrote a long time ago about my experience and then I went back and I kind of rewrote it so that it would give more of a specific idea of what this movie's about. Says: I have run out of pencils, I have run out of paints, I have run out of books, I have run out of water. When will the night be over? The darkness seeps through the slats in the blinds like the stink of a rotten egg. The smell stains the edges of my weak fortress. Paper rustles on the desk, moved by no human hand. The sound sends tingling shockwaves across my trembling skin. The floor clicks and pops, playing its cruel, little fugue. My wide eyes scan the black room for those vile clumps, the tongues of cold black flame gathering and slipping through the shadows. The digital clocks red soldiers step gleefully into the air. The lion silently roars by my bedside, and the beak of the octopus suddenly burst upon me. I scream. Can I escape to the snowy streets below, for the haints don't take elevators. But the bakers would see from my bare ankles that these are sleeping clothes, and there's spit on the streets. As the dawn breaks, it beats dully against the shutters. The morning's purple clouds grin their jagged grins, shamelessly baring holes from missing teeth, and I learned that the day is only darkness make naked, and the buildings are her wicked bones. 

Glen Nelson:                  I think a lot of artists, in some way, feel isolated. One close friend of mine who's quite successful, calls me every once in awhile and he'll say, "I'm stuck in my studio again. I haven't left for days. I have these deadlines. I just need to talk to another person." I think that all artists can feel isolated, even those who are in collaborative fields. Then when you layer mental challenges on top of that, I can imagine that that is even more isolating still. Is the creation of artwork for you a way to break out of that? Or do you feel like you're communicating to an audience and you're inviting people in? 

Annie Poon:                  I'm not even thinking of an audience or of communicating or anything. I'm just going in there and meditating and enjoying bringing these things out of my subconscious, actually seeing what they look like.

Glen Nelson:                  With the Outsider Artists that we discussed a few minutes ago, most of them were not discovered in their lifetime or they were not in a place to really benefit from it--let's say if you were in prison and so forth--but I can imagine that they would have ambivalent feelings about being famous. I mean, do you think that they would be able to deal with that? Would they like it?

Annie Poon:                  What actually a lot of them, well, not a lot... But Frank Jones, he became pretty well known even though he was in prison, and the guards, like you said, they would give him better materials, but what's the good when you're in prison or with...? I don't know what else to say about that. 

Glen Nelson:                  With him, in prison, there's an aspect of his work and these other artists' work that I see in your work, which is freedom. It feels to me that the characters that you're describing, if they're autobiographical or not, are searching for this openness and they're dealing with whatever's thrown at them, but their ultimate goal is to kind of move through it in some way. 

Annie Poon:                  Right. This is me processing what's going on inside, and that's the most important part of what this art is to me. 

Glen Nelson:                  For people who are listening who read scriptures, would you challenge them to try to make art in some way that connects with what they're reading? 

Annie Poon:                  Well, funny you should say that...

Glen Nelson:                  I didn't mean that as a set up, but okay...

Annie Poon:                  I've created a website called The Interpretation Thereof. I haven't broadcast it yet because I have more to put on it, but the idea of this website is that you can go there, you can look for any chapter in the Book of Mormon and find one of my drawings, but then on the about page, it says that this website is hopefully going to be a place where other people who are making work about the scriptures can come, and I will post their art, and hopefully once people start hearing about this website, they'll be making their own scripture drawings to send to me. Even kids, I would predict, will be doing this. It's a dream I have. 

Glen Nelson:                  Wouldn't that be cool if you had artists from all over the planet who are sending in things? Okay, so what is the website? 

Annie Poon:                  The Interpretation Thereof.com. 

Glen Nelson:                  If people want to learn more about your work, you've put a lot of your films online. How would they find them? 

Annie Poon:                  They just go to Vimeo.com, and then they search creators, or by director, or something on the search bar, and they just put Annie Poon.

Glen Nelson:                  And your website, AnniePoon.com, also has quite a lot of merch, and does it have a blog, too? 

Annie Poon:                  It has my instagram feed. Yeah. Actually these drawings, the thing that keeps me drawing them is because I post one every day on instagram. My instagram feed is a huge part of my life, so you can find my feed on my blog and also if you want to see more of my videos, you can click on in my video section, you will actually take you to the vimeo site, so that's probably the easiest way. 

Glen Nelson:                  What's next for you? Are you working on a new film? 

Annie Poon:                  Yes. It's a film about my sister Taylor, who's my band mate that I mentioned earlier before. The song is from our album and it's called "The Prince," and it's about people who are on the periphery, people who are shut out, and just kind of exploring that feeling of... just kind of sadness over what she's going through. 

Glen Nelson:                  Alright, we're going to end our episode listening to that right now. I want to thank Annie. Fantastic having you here. Thanks for your beautiful, beautiful work and your beautiful, beautiful self. 

Annie Poon:                  Thank you, Glen.

Glen Nelson:                  On behalf of the Mormon Arts Center, I want to thank you for listening. This episode was recorded on March 28, 2018 in New York. It is a privilege to have access to artists like Annie and to enjoy their confidence. The music in this episode began and ended with "Sea of Fire" from the album "SCUZZ" by Murungu, a band of Annie Poon and her sister, Taylor Benac, and included the full score of the film, "This Is How I Spend My Time." Both are used with permission. Our recording engineer is Robert Willis. For additional information about the Mormon Arts Center, go to our website, mormonartscenter.org. I'd love to hear from you, and I'm happy to pass along messages to Annie as well. Email us at mormonartscenter@gmail.com. I'm Glen Nelson. Goodbye.

 

Glen Nelson