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Daily Inspiration: Meet Anna Robertson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anna Robertson.

Hi Anna, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
My name is Anna Robertson, I’m a photographer, art historian, and printer. I’m twenty-three years old and from Florence, Alabama. I came to Savannah to pursue my Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography at SCAD in 2016, and now I am finishing my Master of Arts in Art History at SCAD.

I want to pursue curating as a profession after I finish my masters degree. I have been working on a body of photographic work since the beginning of 2020 called “Breath Studies” that I intend to publish as a book in a few years, as well as a solo exhibition, ideally in Savannah. I am really focused on communicating the interconnectedness of the body, the landscape, and the longstanding affects of time. Because of my background in history, I try to be sensitive to the reverence of place, and I stress the importance of that in both my writing and my visual work. Growing up in the American South, I have found that the land holds so much history to it, and it’s impossible to avoid or overlook. I had a wonderful professor at SCAD, Zig Jackson, who stressed the significance of respect and kindness in making photographs. I really took his lessons to heart in my work.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I think I’d be hard-pressed to find someone who would say their road has been smooth. I regularly jump over hurdles in my professional and personal life. However, I have had a wonderful support network of friends and family that have smoothed my road, especially since I started graduate school. I am so incredibly lucky to have kind, understanding, true friends that are in my corner. I love and admire them greatly.

I am regularly used to being underestimated, either because of my gender, or my personality, where I grew up, or my priorities in life. Women especially are paralyzed by other peoples opinions on how they should be living their lives. Either they’re too focused on their career, or not focused enough. Too aggressive, or too quiet. Too feminine, or not feminine enough. Especially before the pandemic, I felt so pulled in different directions by other’s wants, that I couldn’t find myself in my decisions. The pandemic especially really forced me to think about what I wanted, rather than what other people had made me feel like I wanted. I found myself really pursuing career goals, or project ideas, that I had thought about for many years. Sticking with my gut has opened up some of the most rewarding jobs, ideas, and dreams for me.

I have historically struggled a great deal with my mental and physical health. I have dealt with pretty severe anxiety and trauma-induced issues. My experience with endometriosis, a common pain disorder that affects 1 in 10 people born with a uterus, regularly influences my work, though it’s increasingly subtle as I’ve gotten older. Endometriosis is what brought me closer to the natural world, finding symmetry in my pain in vines of kudzu or hope and solace in the way that seafoam is lifted up from the sand. I think the lushness, the wildness of Savannah and the surrounding islands and shorelines gave me such a beautiful, magical space to create those connections for not only myself, but for the people who view my work.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I really try to lead my work through empathy. I want to make sure I know the history of spaces I am photographing in, and I show respect for those places. I would encourage any photographer to do that, photograph with empathy.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
Honestly? That life is not guaranteed in the way we are used to it, and you just need to do what makes you happy. That often can mean taking a big risk, or taking time away from something that is stressing you out. Take time to get to know yourself. Take time to find what YOU want. That can take such a long time, but don’t force it. Be gentle, be kind to yourself, and allow yourself the space to get in touch with your intuition. If that means moving? Do it. If it means leaving a toxic job? Work towards it. If it means taking a step in your relationship? Do it. Be vulnerable, be passionate, and don’t settle.

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Anna Robertson

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