Anna Vesela was born near Olomouc in Moravia into a family of tradesmen. In a region still believed to be home to wood fairies, folklore and traditional culture were very strong. Instructed in extensive needlework techniques, historic costume, music and dance, as well as a rigorous academic program, she earned a degree in dentistry. In 1948, the year the Communists took control, the newly married Anna Zemánková moved to Prague, where her life was one of wife, mother, and home. Around 1960 she mysteriously began to make large surreal drawings.
Driven by an "uncontrollable force" Zemánková created ethereal, biomorphic renderings that, like a spider's web, draw us in with their delicate beauty, then unexpectedly frighten us. Much of the artwork on view here is, in its fluidity, strikingly related to the automatic drawings made by mediums in the Spiritualist Community of Nová Paka, yet they paradoxically demonstrate deliberate effort. Dexterous, Zemánková not only drew, but also manipulated the paper by crimping it, and embellishing it with embroidery, crochet, and appliqué. Beyond works on paper, she made hats, purses, and home furnishings such as pillows and lampshades and her masterwork, a room divider.
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mixed media on manipulated paper
Collection of the International Folk Art Foundation
Oil pastel on paper
Museum of International Folk Art
A unit of Museum of New Mexico
Gift of Thomas Isenberg