(Part of our ongoing series profiling 100 Houston-area artists. No rankings; no order. Check back every Tuesday and Thursday for another edition.)
What she does: Anna Sprage is a painter, but that's a fairly recent designation. Most of her early adulthood revolved around the music scene in Los Angeles, playing guitar and violin while working for Metal Blade Records, an independent label responsible for the likes of Slayer, Metallica and GWAR. Sprage moved to Houston in 2008 and shortly thereafter underwent a difficult pregnancy with her son Braxton. It was during this time that she started to paint as a means to pass the hours confined to bed rest.
Braxton was born in 2009 with transposition of the great arteries (TGA), a congenital heart defect that required numerous surgeries. Although he's since been given a clean bill of health, the road to recovery hasn't been easy. "We started planning a funeral on two separate occasions. When I wasn't with him, I was over at the Ronald McDonald House painting. It was the only way I could occupy my mind."
Why she likes it: "Painting is a form of communication, a form of expression--the eyes have a lot to do with that," Sprage says of the spindly, lemur-eyed figures central to her paintings. She adds, "By focusing in on the eyes, the effect becomes more dramatic. It's a way to scream what you're trying to say."
What inspires her: Religion has been the primary influence for much of the artist's work, particularly Old Testament figures like Jezebel and Lilith. While Sprage describes herself as a deeply spiritual person ("God has given me a lot, and for that I'm very grateful"), she's not a big fan of organized religion, saying, "I've worked for a lot of churches. I've seen the corruption that goes on there."
If not this, what else? Sprage would love to become more involved in the collaborative effort of putting on art exhibitions, and her dream would be to one day have a gallery of her own. She describes the local art scene as "blowing up", adding, "Houston has a strong art community, everyone's really stepping it up. I love what groups like NeoPopStreetFunk are doing."
Her proudest moment: "When I sold my first painting! I was so excited I went out and had it tattooed on my arm."
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