Stepping into Ann Bondurant Trinkle’s art studio, a visitor can be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things—wood, metal, found objects. Trinkle, herself, isn’t daunted by it.
“I have an odd visual memory,” she says. “I know where things are. I’m a better finder than the rest of my family.”
Her studio, in an old building in the Roanoke Industrial Park, is a feast for the eyes. First, there’s the work room then there’s her art. She’s been creating 3-D/2-D pieces since 2000 but says she “feels a change coming. I may lose some of the imagery. Less drawing and more abstract, but still telling a story.”
Currently, each piece tells a story through a painting or drawing, an assemblage of objects and an interesting frame.
Trinkle didn’t set out to be an artist. She was going to be a marine biologist, she says, but switched her major at Randolph Macon Woman’s College to art. She followed that up with a Master of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her love of collecting things began in college when she started going to thrift stores.
“I’m a collector of crap—a hoarder,” she says, laughing. “And I love wood and frames.”
Her grandfather and father had a workshop in the backyard, she says, where she liked to hang out. The wooden storage cabinet with many, many drawers, is in her workroom. She also learned some skills from them.
“I know how to put stuff together-ish,” she says. “I don’t want to not make mistakes because sometimes mistakes are great.”
Her process begins “with an image or a story,” she says. “It’s an itch.” The subject matter may reflect what’s going on in her life, and the story evolves from there. Her pieces include such diverse items as her grandmother’s gloves, hair from a horse’s mane, drawing, hardware and wooden objects she’s created herself.
Trinkle said she often finds or builds the frame first and does the painting last. But, that won’t be the end. She’ll keep looking at a finished piece and find ways to change it.
“I like to edit.”
It comes back to the story. She calls her pieces “physical poetry.” She says “there’s something going on, but it’s not specific. I want it to be in the viewer’s head.” Her works invite close inspection. They’re also touchable. “It’s all about texture.”
The story is in the relationship among the various parts, which can include shackles, doll parts, walnut shells and shotgun shells. And the hardware.
“Hardware can tell a story,” she says. “You’re nailed; you’re chained; you’re screwed.”
Trinkle’s unique vision has her friends giving her bits and pieces, she said, looking at the variety of items in front of her—small pinecones, change and a series of rusty metal mechanical objects. She also admits to scavenging.
“I’ve embarrassed my children many a time,” she says as she laughs. “It’s just parts.”
And, as much as she likes using found objects, she likes making objects that look like they’ve been used. The casual viewer might not know the difference.
“I just enjoy the process,” she says. “My art is one of the few places where I have control.”