A.R. Drew is a Contemporary Mixed Media Painter residing in Granger, Indiana. There is nothing simple or average about her. Her story, her life, her energy, or the art she creates is larger than life. She knows her purpose in this life is to make ART. To share it and highlight her unique beautiful Bipolar brain. Her process is tangibly spiritual and is a palpable experience to observe her painting in her studio. Connected deeply to the work she creates, and the impact it can have on reducing stigma and shame around mental health. Anna has a visceral connection to her viewers. She is inspired to transfer courage to them through her own journey. To transfer empowerment into their own life experiences. Her level of passion and determination to reach those suffering in silence is paramount. Her artwork has exhibited with regional and nationally renowned artists including, Robert De Niro Sr., Paul Rothko, Leland Bell, Bob Thompson and Nancy Swan Drew. Anna also has participated in Art Miami as part of Superfine. Anna recently created a series of painted capes that she designed, for a show during New York Fashion Week. Her emergence in the art world is a metamorphosis that continues to delight the artist and her following.
Drew was born in a small Midwest town in 1976. As a child, Anna started painting as soon as she could hold a brush. Her mother, Nancy Swan Drew, introduced Anna to her art studio at a young age. As a child Anna exuded endless energy, and joy. She had little inhibitions to express herself fully. In her childhood she was exposed to art as if it was as ordinary as learning to read. It was an everyday experience watching her mother create and paint on a variety of media including: the walls of her childhood home, furniture, clothing, and even a bus. Her mother was powerfully creative, and Anna was inspired to grow this type of feminine artistic power.
Anna attended The University of Michigan and graduated in 1996 with her BFA in Painting. She received several encouraging accolades and awards for her work in her chosen medium. During her time at Michigan, Anna was highly involved in social justice and used her passion for art to connect with disparaged populations in Detroit and Benton Harbor, Michigan. This passion steered her towards obtaining a Masters in Social Work from Andrews University. She spent years involved in community mental health organizations, as a therapist and art healer.
In her teenage years, Anna was diagnosed as Bipolar. This disease caused her to lose touch with reality and her own sense of self several times during her young adulthood. Anna had several inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations, over the course of her twenties. Anna sought to understand these episodes and fought to keep them from happening. Part of her fight was to join the University of Michigan Pretcher Bipolar research study 11 years ago. For many years Anna kept her experiences a secret. Her story did not include sharing a mental health diagnosis. Until Anna made a decision to despite these struggles, she would show herself and then others a different paradigm. Anna figured out that part of slaying a dragon, that is inside yourself, is to love it more, to accept its gifts. Anna’s artistic passion enabled her to regain her power back, to change the story from victim, to victor. Anna then discovered a purpose that was greater than herself, to capture real human experiences in her works of art. To be a warrior and empower others to do the same.
Currently Anna utilizes her art work to express her views on the current mental health crisis. She creates works of art to highlight her diagnosis of Bipolar. To engage the viewer to enter in to an empowered and shame free visual experience. Drew places crowns in her paintings as a symbol of innate worth, also a symbol for the 7th chakra. Anna has also created The Crown Academy, a forum of therapeutic/coaching tools to help others find their innate value. Anna Ryan Drew is just getting started, put your crown on, and enjoy the view.