Ann Toebbe


The focus of my paintings is domestic life. Earlier pieces, before 2011, were based on my memory and my connections to certain homes and rooms. Moving forward I’m often working with other people’s memory and I use collections of photographs that I snap when I visit people’s homes as source material. At this point in my practice, my research requires me to be nosy and somewhat intrusive. I equate it with being an anthropologist or journalist. Being an artist gives me a lot of time to imagine, to observe, and to investigate. In the studio I reconstruct who I am and my connections to the world, moving between past and present and the personal, cultural, and political.

Over the years I have expanded my subject matter to include the lives of caregivers, exes, friends of friends, in-laws, and friend’s parents, asking my subjects to provide written descriptions and/or photographs of a remembered interior. From these materials I reconstruct a memory employing drawing, painting, and paper collage. I employ a systematic and labor-intensive process to build my compositions resulting in tightly organized and highly detailed paintings. My paintings present the bird’s eye view of an aerial map alongside the flattened two-dimensional renderings found in children’s book illustrations. I embed a painting with clues to its orientation while disorienting the viewer by rotating the composition; the flower vases are all upright, yet the oven is upside down.

Toebbe was born in Cincinnati and received her BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1997. She earned an MFA in painting from Yale University in 2004 and a DAAD Scholarship to the Universität der Kunst, Berlin in 2004-05.

All work courtesy Tabor de Nagy