Interview | Adrienne Antonson
“Rather than speak of contemplation and action, we might speak of contemplation-and-action, letting the hyphens suggest what our language obscures: that the one cannot exist without the other. When we fail to hold the paradox together, when we abandon the creative tension between the two, then both ends fly apart into madness.”
— Parker Palmer
Uncertainty is a difficult thing to approach with ease. It lingers and is as sure as it is unsure. The paradox of the surety and how it is approached is what gives it such weight.
I approached that day with great uncertainty but excitement as well and when I walked through the door into an airy, white walled studio, I was greeted with a warm handshake and an invitation to get queso at one of the few restaurants in town. We drove down the road to a side-of-the-highway Mexican restaurant and after we were shown to a table in the corner we both settled and reached for chips.
“Over the summer being away from New York and coming down off of that I just floated in the pool for two weeks and I could feel the layers of stress just melting,” she started as I asked her about her move from a big city to a tiny Georgian town. “It was essential,” she said and we paused to order. What initially drew me to Adrienne was her minimal, self-designed and self-crafted clothing label, STATE. They have pieces - all made with sustainable, natural materials - that accompany a hard days work or a dressy evening. However, I discovered through our time together that she works wholly as a visual artist using different textiles in the fields of fashion and sculpture. Working with human hair to create life like sculptures and designing and producing the pieces for STATE are just a few of her many ventures.
"So after that time of just floating and sitting I started really thinking about the purpose of STATE," she said while looking up, "and with me being in my early thirties and starting a family I just started thinking about what my life is really for and what impact my life is making if any. I don’t know if fashion is what I want to be saying all of the time.”
We went in and out of weighted conversation and our bellies filled with comfort food. She had a way of making a first encounter feel like old friendship. She told me about her several moves from North Carolina to an island outside of Seattle to New York City and then to a little town outside of Atlanta. Her and her husband’s moves were spontaneous and in each place she found a way to plan and create and do - all amidst a community.
When we returned from lunch she walked me through her home – a beautiful space with a rock floored room and large windows. Her family had been working for months to get this home ready to move into and shortly after they made the leap from NYC, her and her husband discovered they were expecting a little one.
“I think being a mom is going to be so distracting,” she said and smiled, “I always felt like I was very creative and very focused but that this was nothing compared to how it was going to be and the influence and inspiration that it would give me.” She spoke with great clarity all the while holding on to her feeling of unsurety for the future. “I think that’s partly why I’m in this mood of ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’ because it’s coming and I want to create space in my life and in my brain and in my practice for that to just take me. I feel like I’m getting on a rocket ship and I don’t know where it’s going to go. And I’m really excited about it but I can’t really plan for it. Cause how do you pack if you don’t know where you’re going?” She laughed and took a sip of her warm lemon water.
As we spoke she often looked up and around referencing pieces in her home that she had dreamed up and made with her hands. This is what captivated me so much about her - she is a true maker, a dreamer, and she lets the times of silence and uncertainty take her into times of creativity. “I just am always thinking in a creative mindset,” she went on when I asked her about what she loves about her work. “Even if I’m not doing this stuff I’m doing something creative – working on the house, making something, building something, working with my hands, so the thought of not doing that,” she paused and took another sip. “I’ve just always figured out ways to do these things in my life - to make it comfortable in some ways and make it sustainable. I think I would just like to make everything around me. If I just had the time and the tools – make the furniture, make all the dishes, all the textiles – so these are just the select few things I do for work. That’s why I do so many different things. Just seeing something when it’s finished – like seeing photos from a photoshoot, or having that moment when everyone’s collaborating – the images are coming together and fulfilling – figuring out the logistics and making it happen.”
There is a profound connection between wondering and creating – between contemplation and action. To make art the mind has to be still – it has to experience more than just the very act of creating. Adrienne is one of the clearest examples of this. Her work is different and beautiful and her mind is incredibly proficient. She is a woman that is beyond what it means to be a creative in our world – she is a beautiful example of true humanity.
Towards the end of our time I felt a lingering, a stillness. There was no rush and no feeling of losing time. We said our goodbyes and conversed until my car started and I turned out of the driveway. There was a peace that hung heavily over our conversation and over the many different skills and creations of an incredible artist.