Gilf! - Autoincarceration in JPG gallery (detail)

Ann Lewis

United States

Urban Art, Street Art, Installation

Ann Lewis
Ann Lewis
United States
October 4, 2016
Andreja Velimirović is a passionate content writer with a knack for art and old movies. Majoring in art history, he is an expert on avant-garde modern movements and medieval church fresco decorations. Feel free to contact him via his Linkedin profile:

Ann Lewis, by far better known by her alias GILF which is often accompanied by the exclamation mark at the end, is an American street artist and activist whose work is focused on creating progressive change within communities. It is able to achieve that by provoking thoughtfulness and motivating a revolution of the zeitgeist – a concept in which the dominant set of paragons and beliefs motivate the actions of the members of society in a period of time. Since GILF was able to break through the ranks and become famous, her work has been featured in several publications and magazines, including Blouin Art Info, New York Magazine, Brooklyn Street Art, Salon, Le Monde, and The New York Times.

In order to create love and understanding, communities need more contact between each other
Ann Lewis – Trust Your Vision, 2014

The Rise of the GILF

A particularly interesting part of Lewis’ career is the way it began. She left her mechanical engineering degree with goals of focusing on art and furniture design at UW-Madison after taking an intro to 3D design class. This was indeed a pivotal moment for her, but it took GILF over four years after that to somehow detach herself from designing furniture and start making art full time. The breaking point was Ann’s disappointment with the choices George W. Bush administration was making in the year of 2008. Since then, her art has been constantly evolving. It’s impressive that GILF’s art does not seem to have a reoccurring visual element, although the themes on which she focuses tend to always circulate around social justice and environmental justice issues. And just as her style is dynamic, so is her creative method – it changes from project to project but it always starts with a tremendous amount of research. That’s how Ann is able to conflict her greatest enemies, battling against the wrongs of issues like mass incarceration, police brutality, LGBTQ in- toleration and war. Additionally, her work also tackles topics such as ocean conservation, extinction and poaching, water rights, and animal rights/abuse. These goals stayed rather consistent throughout her career, as Ann claims herself: I like being able to present facts to people of which they may not otherwise be aware. Facts about our violent culture, institutionalized racism, and corporate greed and destruction. I hope to stir emotions on a deep level. Whether people are sad or furious I hope that my work can be an impetus for them to change their way of life, belief system, or participate in their communities in ways that they wouldn’t have in the past. I use art to push society forward towards a more loving, free, and healthy existence for all. As for her biggest influences, Ann states that Yoko Ono and Joseph Beuys of the Fluxus movement had the strongest toll on her, although Marcel Duchamp’s ability to redefine the meaning of an object also had a huge impact on GILF.

If art is considered to be a way of fighting back against the injustices in the world, Ann Lewis GILF is standing in the first battle rows and is shooting back in style

Shows titled GILFNYC — JPG held in Empower Gallery were a hit during 2016
Ann Lewis – Gentrification in Progress, 2013

Fighting Back by Making Art

Using her public installations and clever messages hidden within mazes, Lewis continues to astonish us with both her talent and creative bravery. GILF is innovative, uncompromising and wondrous whilst her pieces are original and full of color – what more can we ask from a single contemporary artist? Ultimately, if one is scared by thinking Ann is close to her artistic end, nothing more than a single quote from the artist herself is required to ease their mind: My greatest inspiration is the continued injustice I see around the world. I will never run out of issues to discuss. Although it presents us with a dark fact, this statement does give us some comfort in knowing GILF is here to stay.

Ann Lewis lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Featured image: Ann Lewis – Autoincarceration (detail)
All images courtesy of the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2017Venice BiennaleVeniceGroup
2016IthouRush Arts Gallery, New York CityGroup
2016The Art of the Political RevolutionThe Hole, New York CityGroup
2016Race & Revolution Governor’s Island, New York CityGroup
2016Brooklyn is the BoroughDoyle Auction House, New York CityGroup
2015SHATTERINGJoseph Gross Gallery, New York CitySolo
2015#IAMTHEMANY-The White House, Washington D.C.Group
2015Le Saut de L’angeTraits-d’union 5, Paris FranceGroup
2015Attack the BlockOne Art Space, New York CityGroup
2015Trophy ArtAZ Art Gallery, New York CityGroup
2015The Power of PaintVertical Gallery, ChicagoGroup
2014NYC – IRANSeyhoun Art Gallery, Tehran, IranSolo
2014Push ItArtNowNY, New YorkGroup
2014#checkyourselfieArcilesi Homberg Fine Art, DUMBO BrooklynGroup
2014Small World Street ArtR. Jampol Projects, NYCGroup
2014Do Re MiParlor Gallery, Asbury Park NYGroup
2013I EXAMArcilesi Homburg Fine Arts, DUMBO BrooklynGroup
2013Young New Yorkers BenefitAllegra LaViola Gallery, NYCGroup
2013KingBrown Issue #9 Launch ExhibitNew YorkGroup
2013Critical ConditionJim Kempner GalleryGroup
2013Emerging to EstablishedKrause Gallery NYCGroup
2013Tarot: Art of FortuneModern Eden Gallery San FranciscoGroup
2013DUMBO Arts FestivalDUMBO BrooklynGroup
2012Fountain Art FairNew YorkGroup
2012Inaugural Group ShowBlanc Gallery Cambridge, MAGroup
2012PushArcilesi Homburg Fine Arts BrooklynGroup
2012Just My TypeLowBrow Artique BrooklynGroup
2012RevolutionBeethoven Festival ChicagoGroup
2012(Re)printHendershot Gallery NYCGroup
2012Brooklyn BoundColacnio Gallery Nazareth CollegeGroup
2012Wanna PieceFA Fine Arts NYCGroup
2012The HoldoutsCorridor Gallery and RUSH Arts Foundation Brooklyn NYGroup
2011Fountain Art FairLos AngelesGroup
2011Fountain Art FairMiamiGroup
2011Gilf! Pop Up GalleryBushwick Open StudiosSolo
2011Street Art Saved my Life - 39 storiesC.A.V.E. Gallery Venice CAGroup