Skip to main content

MB News

Manhattan Beach Artist Explores Themes at Grand Canyon Residency

Jul 31, 2023 05:26PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

A self-portrait of artist Annie McCone-Lopez, left, and one of McCone-Lopez's works on amate paper, right. Images via McCone-Lopez.

Manhattan Beach artist Annie McCone-Lopez has just completed the first half of a prestigious artists' residency in the Grand Canyon, where she has been developing her art and educating visitors.

The Grand Canyon Conservancy's Artist in Residence program is an artist-focused, open-ended model that emphasizes on-site research and exploration to create innovative new works and deepen relationships between the public and Grand Canyon. The selected artists live and work at the Grand Canyon's South Rim for up to eight weeks. The artists receive free accommodations and workspace, as well as a modest stipend for travel, food, and supplies.

McCone-Lopez will return to the Grand Canyon in November to complete her residency. In the meantime, Manhattan Beach News spoke with McCone-Lopez about her work, the Grand Canyon, Manhattan Beach, and the theme of water in her work.

MBNews: What kinds of pieces did you work on during your residency? Did you work in any new mediums?

Annie McCune-Lopez: ‘Let us meet on the Land at the Waters Edge’ is the name of my work and time at the Grand Canyon. The intention of my work is reconnecting us to each other, the land and especially water. During my residency with the Grand Canyon Conservancy, I mainly focused on making connections with the land and the people; gathering information about the connections we have with water. 

For my project at the Grand Canyon, I am making a codex from Amate paper, which is a Mexican paper that the peoples of Mexico and Central America used to make their codices. In the codex, I am painting the river and the flora and fauna, the people, and the spirit of water. I am using Egg Tempera and acrylic. I also spent time with the students at the Grand Canyon School (grades K-12). We made individual codices and also worked on a group codex that will be displayed during my exhibition at the Kolb Studio. Our focus was the relationship we have with water, and how we express in visual terms the spirit of water. We worked with dry pastels, oil pastels, and watercolor. I also conducted video interviews at the visitor center over a three-day time period. I interviewed visitors to the park and also employees and local native people. I am interested to hear how people view water, especially the spirit and nature of water. Also, in the Grand Canyon, water is a touchy subject - especially on the South Rim, where water has to be piped in from the North Rim in an antiquated system that is breaking and is in much need of constant repair. Regarding new mediums, I am working on compiling the video interviews as a multimedia installation. That is something I have never used before.

MBNews: What do you plan to work on when you return in November? 

AML: When I return in November, I will be completing my codex and preparing for my exhibition and presentation of my work.

MBNews: People say that Manhattan Beach is an inspirational backdrop for artists, as the Grand Canyon certainly is as well. How does it compare to work as an artist at the Grand Canyon versus Manhattan Beach?

AML: Being an artist, we get inspired no matter where we are and the spirit of the place, and people. The spirit of each place will always come forward in the work. Given that the Grand Canyon and its peoples’ water is scarce, the struggle to have access to potable water is a real issue for many people of the southwest. Manhattan Beach is on the Pacific Ocean where we are faced with the abundance of the spirit and energy of water. My plan is to continue in my work to bring the sacred voice of water to our attention.

MBNews: What advice do you have for any artists who might want to apply for a residency (applications will open next on May 15, 2024)?

AML: Just apply and know that no matter what the outcome is your work is valued. Keep putting yourself out in the world.

(Editor's note: McCune-Lopez will host an exhibition of her work along with a presentation on December 9 and 10 at the historic Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon South Rim.)

Subscribe to MB News Emails * Don't Miss a Thing, Sign Up Today!

* indicates required
Email Format

Subscribe to MB News Emails * Don't Miss a Thing, Sign Up Today!

* indicates required
Email Format