AnnMarie was always a favorite winner in the B J Spoke Gallery's competitions and shows. Her work was highly original and well produced. We also liked that she
was an early advocate for liking one's self image and supporting women in that
idea. Her body of work is unforgettable.
Thanks - A-M T
- Marilyn Levy - gallery director and manager B.J. Spoke Gallery, New York
In AnnMarie Tornabene’s series of photographs, called Not Wonderland, the artist drapes her ample form across choice scenes of contemporary urban decay. In these soft-focus, black-and-white images, Tornabene’s Pre-Raphaelite alter ego and charming Hallmark card aesthetics are beamed to The Big City, where the artist swoons and suffers like a silent screen heroine, lost on an urban sidewalk or wilting beside a gleaming subway car.
In one of her most evocative images titled Hand in Hand, Tornabene and a would-be woodland creature have been left to their own devices on what appears to be abandoned train tracks, with a dumpster and graffiti-painted fence framing the pair on either side. Hiding under the artist’s flowing tresses, flower headdress and layered gown are sensible yet incongruous sandals, no doubt to protect here feet from the rocky, garbage-strewn ground. The male creature, in a knotted skirt and mask, wears his own flip flops. For no apparent reason a white plastic bag hangs from the side of the dumpster. Despite these actual, accidental details ( or is it partly because of them? ) the image is memorable.
In this picture and others nagging traces of the twenty-first century awkwardly couple with Tornabene’s own signature romantic trappings. The resulting images are both endearingly eccentric and surprisingly ethereal. This may not be Wonderland, but these pictures, which totter back and forth between the real world and the artist’s imagined one, are a wonder.
- Carmen Varricchio, freelance fashion writer Village Voice
I was at first shocked and then intrigued by AnnMarie Tornabene’s revealing self-portraits, all of which show the artist nude outdoors. But these are not ordinary nudes, for Ms. Tornabene’s body is so ample that sitting in water or reclining in nature, she looks like a soft sculpture.
A statement in the exhibition brochure gives some clue to her thinking. She speaks of the images as responding to issues she has experienced in her life: abuse directed at her obesity, problems with sex and relationships, and anxieties about her self-image in a society that rewards and celebrates one body type to the exclusion and ridicule of others. She bravely asks us to look, and look again, to find beauty in her size. And she succeeds. The photographs by Ms. Tornabene, who lives in Queens, are interesting because they challenge us to think about something familiar in a radically different way.
- Benjamin Genocchio - NY Times
To view a photograph by AnnMarie Tornabene is akin to studying a chapter in art history. One senses immediately the Old Master pedigree behind many of her images. What is it about AnnMarie's photographs that set them apart from her art historical sources? The first and most obvious is the medium itself, photography, a thoroughly modern art form, though, that is not meant to over-simplify the point. Tornabene's aesthetic is anything but modern; the photographs are statements against contemporary and digital art, hence their rich art historical lineage.
- Dr. Stephen Lamia, PhD - gallery director, The Anthony Girodano Gallery, New York
Edward Weston once said of a contemporary that "He doesn't have to try to be different -- he *is* different." That's what I see in her work as opposed to most -- she is not trying to be different, she is trying to say something important to her and the result is that her work *is* different.
- Ron Hammond, photographer
AnnMarie Tornabene examines the specifics of her own face and form as the terrain of conflict. Her series of self-portraits seeks to resolve confusion through revelation, although hesitancy and ambivalence are evident in these touching images.
- Helen Harrison - NY Times