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 Image of crying women wiht purple hair surrounded by food

JANUARY 8 – JANUARY 18, 2018

Christensen Center Student Art Gallery

Artist Talk: Thursday, Jan. 18, 6 – 8 p.m. Christensen Center Student Art Gallery

The Art of Recovery explores the artist’s personal struggle and journey with an eating disorder. This collection of paintings contains stories that represent the process of what it is like to recover from a mental illness. It examines the cultural weight of food and how it relates to body image and mental health.


Anna Hoover is an acrylic painter residing in Northeast Minneapolis, MN. She received her AFA at Minneapolis Community College in 2013 and is currently attending Augsburg University to complete her BA in studio arts by spring 2018. Anna paints large-scale acrylic paintings, with explosive neon colors. Her artwork explores many different themes including; mental health, horror, and pop culture. She has participated in many art fairs around the twin cities including the Minneapolis Uptown Art Fair. Anna hopes to one day get her masters and become a licensed art therapist.


The Art of Recovery is a series of paintings that represent my recent struggle with an eating disorder. These paintings are not only an exploration of mental illness, but are stories about the subliminal messages we receive every day about food, body image, and conventional beauty.

Each painting in this series illustrates a different stage of my eating disorder and recovery. The first time somebody told me I was fat, I was 8 years old. When I was 13, a boy wrote “Ms. Piggy” on my locker at school.  I was embarrassed, distraught, and ashamed of my body. I had learned that fat was the worst thing you could possibly be. I felt I needed to change my appearance in order to be accepted by society.

Painting portraits of food and curvy woman is my rejection of the notion that thinness is equivalent to beauty and success. My goal is to express the repercussions of fat shaming and how harmful it is on someone’s mental health. Within our society there is not only pressure to be thin and beautiful, but there is an obsession with food. Images of gorgeous woman eating fast food, “guilt free” advertisements, and the promotion of dieting all create a narrative about what we eat and who we are when we eat it. Stigma surrounds fatness and the terms healthy food or unhealthy food. This creates a subconscious relationship with food and weight. We praise thinness as a symbol of health and beauty and reject fatness as a symbol of lack of health and failure. I painted different images of woman, all of them decaying, posing beautifully, or being weighed down. These images are my visual representation of the negative impact of my social constructed relationship with food has had on my mental health. The story begins with Ms. Piggy and evolves into struggles with food, body image, intrusive thought, and anxiety.

I hope that I can turn the gallery into a space where conversations about the experiences of eating disorders are welcome. The purpose of my show is not to claim that all stories are the same, but to illustrate one experience out of many. It is important to note that eating disorders do not discriminate race, ethnicity, gender or weight. This is simply an illustration of my own story.

I want to take down the shame of eating disorders and stigma around food and weight. In creating this series, I hope that many people can find content they can relate to. I placed the painting of a warrior woman at the beginning of the series to show that recovery is a never-ending journey. Many people recovering from mental illnesses often carry the weight of that illness for most of their life. It shows not that recovery is impossible, but is a journey and requires an extraordinary amount of strength to persevere.