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Annie Hejny

August 6 - September 3: As Artist in Residence with Lanesboro Arts, St. Paul-based abstract painter, Annie Hejny, invites the community to join in creating ceremonies and paintings with water and sediment from the Root River to reveal the stories of our relationship to local water.

Visual artist Annie Hejny believes that collaborative art making and storytelling around the river creates an opportunity for the community to make informed choices about daily water usage. Through local stewardship activities, poetic storytelling and community river painting, her project in Lanesboro will contribute to community efforts to expand awareness of our essential relationship with water and the Root River. “I’m trying to bring the earth’s voice forward,” she states.

Based in Saint Paul, MN Annie ceremoniously harvests local river water and sediment to create textured abstract paintings. Her process begins the moment she steps into nature, leading to the river. She is passionate about how intentional exploration of the earth can lay the groundwork for informed painting in her studio. Annie’s blended painting technique, in which she pours water and sediment over a flat canvas, allowing it to emulate natural flow and erosion before layering it with traditional brushwork, aims to honor the water’s sacred and historical importance. Lanesboro area community members are invited to participate in a Root River Water Harvest & Painting Event in Gateway Park from 10am – Noon on Saturday, August 12, in which Annie will share her gathering rituals and painting technique. Materials and supplies will be provided.

Painting with collected river water and sediment is how Annie lives out her responsibility to the earth. Fully saturated with elements of the river itself, her paintings reflect the changing current and the luminosity of the water’s surface, as well as the foreboding shift in our relationship to these waters. The process has taught her that spending time with our waters and building a sense of ownership creates a deep care for the human impact on the wild ecology.

Annie feels that Lanesboro is an ideal location to inspire water awareness because of it’s connection to the Upper Mississippi River. The Mississippi River, which is the main stream channel to the Root River running through Lanesboro, is integral to our lives as Minnesotans by providing necessary recreation, beautiful wildlife and fresh drinking water. Her major goal for this residency includes three main components — storytelling, stewardship, and community art making — ultimately intertwines her artistic development with a communal appreciation for the Root River.

Annie is interested in joining community members for morning river walks, every Tues-Friday, that are open to the public. She believes that repetitively spending time with nature opens up our awareness to the healing powers and the rich stories that nature offers. Annie plans to walk and talk with the Root River and she would love to cultivate relationships with Lanesboro area residents during this time. Each week will have a focus: 1) story-telling 2) poetry in nature 3) developing rituals 4) reflection. Depending on the participants, these walks will be about 30-60min and may include some sort of documentation / writing component.

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About Annie Hejny

Annie Hejny is a Minnesota-born emerging visual artist, intentionally exploring Minnesota’s waters to create abstract paintings with collected river water. She studied at the University of St. Thomas and St. Catherine University, earning a double-major B.A. in Elementary Education and Studio Art with Summa Cum Laude honors (2012).

Over the past four years, she has successfully completed over 20 commissioned projects for galleries, private collections, and public institutions, locally and nationwide. In 2015 and 2016, her paintings were selected and sold at the annual Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition, receiving the ArtReach St. Croix award (2016). In June 2015, she participated in the Women’s Art Institute (WAI) studio intensive at St. Catherine University. Simultaneously, she converted her single-stall garage into gallery three, a pop-up exhibition space for local artists and has curated five collaborative events. In June 2016, she returned as a Teaching Assistant for WAI.

She completed a two-year professional mentorship/protégée program through Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota (WARM) and continues to paint at the Casket Arts Building in Northeast Minneapolis.

For more on Annie and her process, please read “Take Me To The River: A Profile of Artist Annie Hejny” by Andrew Ellis on

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