Anna Dugan - Artist

Anna Dugan is an artist based in Salem, MA. With a BFA from the University of Massachusetts and after going though plenty of office jobs, Anna found a creative voice in murals. Anna describes murals as a way to “create public work that can help beautify a space, educate people, create representation, and connect people to one another simultaneously.” And Anna’s murals are a vibrant representations of Filipinx Americans, allowing fellow Filipinx Americans the opportunity to see ourselves in public art, and giving others the chance to see and learn more about Filipinx American culture. Anna has painted murals at the Pistahan Festival in San Francisco, CA and in the Punto Urban Art Museum in Salem, MA. Anna’s work will be at Solid Ground Coffee in Boston, MA this October for Filipinx American History Month, and limited prints will be available in the winter! / ig @annadidathing

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How did you create your career path and were you always into art?
That is a bit of a roller-coaster story. Yes, I have always been in love with anything creative. But for a long time, I had this on-again-off-again relationship with the arts. I first enrolled in college to get a degree in business, but after one semester realized I needed to change my education plan. I knew after one semester that I needed to pursue an education in art and if I didn't just trust my instinct and go for it then, I never would. I transferred schools halfway through my first year and began the Art & Design program at University of Massachusetts in Lowell, MA. I graduated with a BFA with a concentration in Graphic Design, but I never pursued a career in design. The thing is, I was never good at it. I began working office job after office job, paying bills and gaining office experience to get by. But all the while, I never stopped creating things. I realized one day that I always found myself doing something creative, but I had never tried to actually focus my creative impulses to make work with purpose. I decided to quit my job in Boston, and began waiting tables in Salem (where I live) to give myself more time to focus on my creative voice. I started doing chalkboard art for a local cafe, then moved to doing small murals in their windows. I started doing mural jobs for other local businesses and gained the confidence to apply for calls to artists for local mural opportunities.

When did you begin painting murals? And what do you love about murals?
I began painting murals at the beginning of this year - first in local businesses and then for public projects. I love that murals give you the opportunity to create public work that can help beautify a space, educate people, create representation, and connect people to one another simultaneously. Murals allow artists to breath life into a space that can be experienced on a day to day basic and makes art accessible to those who may not have had exposure or opportunities to appreciate it due to their circumstances.

What are some of your favorite projects?
It is so hard to choose! For live painting project I would say my favorite have been live painting at the Pistahan Festival in San Fransisco, CA. For mural painting projects I would say my favorite is a tie between "Halo-Halo" painted in the Punto Urban Art Museum in Salem, MA, and "Level Up" painted in Lynn, MA.

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How have your murals been received by the general public? By Filipinx Americans?
I am so grateful that they have been very well-recieved by the general public. I have had friends and peers tell me that they have learned so much about Filipinx culture through my work. It's so amazing to hear that, because really that's the goal. Filipinx Americans have been so encouraging and have sent me messages about relating to my work and just general notes of support. It is always so humbling receiving messages like that.

How important is representation in your work?
Representation is everything to me in my work. When I started getting the chance to create public murals, I knew I wanted to use these opportunities to carve out more representation for Filipinxs on the East Coast. I am so proud of our culture and want to educate people on the different aspects of it. I believe representation in our communities makes such a big difference. When you see yourself reflected in public spaces in beautiful or powerful ways, it makes you feel seen and instills pride. Representation allows us to connect with one another and to humanize each other. My goal is to use my creative voice to help amplify the voices of others, and creating representation is how that happens. If my murals can help fellow Filipinxs feel less alone and more empowered, then I have done my job.

What is your favorite medium to work in?
I love painting. I usually use house paint to work on my murals.

Does your art have a signature style or look?
My murals are typically really vibrant colors & have somewhat of a folk art style. I use a lot of blocked colors and black linework, rather than blending colors and shading. I have begun incorporating more pattern-work into my paintings as well.

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Who/what has been a big influence in your life? What is your biggest driving force?
My grandmother (I called her Nanay, even though she was really my Lola) has been the biggest influence in my life. She raised me with the values & beliefs I have today. She and my mom always instilled pride in our heritage and taught me and my siblings about our culture. I have yet to find anyone who can make a better lumpia than my Nanay. My driving force is making my family proud, staying connected with my roots, and to help create space for more Filipinx (and other minority) voices.

Do you have any upcoming projects, events you're excited about?
Upcoming, I will be showing a few photographs of my mural work at Solid Ground Cafe in Boston for the month of October (Filipinx American History Month). I am planning on releasing a few limited run prints on my online shop this winter - I will be sure to announce that on my Instagram.

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But other than that, I actually just wrapped up my busiest time of year! I am excited for the downtime to work on my painted gallery pieces during this fall/winter. My spring/summer 2020 lineup is tentative, but I plan on being busy again next year cranking murals out and hopefully doing a few gallery shows.

Images courtesy of Anna Dugan

Jeannine Roson