During Anna Meteyer’s first visit to Jackson Hole, she was camping on Shadow Mountain, leaning against a tree, when a fox wandered into the campsite.
“It walked up to me and looked straight into my eyes,” Meteyer said.
This year, Meteyer, now a Jackson resident, won the Jackson Hole Still Works “Spirit of Wyoming” vodka label design competition. As her first art competition and her first win, that was a big moment for the artist. This weekend, she’ll tack on another first: her inaugural solo exhibition, “Kingdoms of Wild,” set to open with a reception from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday at The Rose.
In the years between her first visit to Jackson and now, Meteyer hasn’t forgotten that moment with the fox on Shadow Mountain. Her work — illustrations done in Micron pens, watercolors and Copic markers — is inspired by the spiritual connection she feels between herself and “everything else in the universe,” whether that’s a bison, whale or small fox. Though the wild animals in her illustrations don’t make eye contact with the viewer, Meteyer stills feels like she’s looking the animals square in the eye while she’s working.
“When I make eye contact with these animals or I feel like I am inside, I feel like, in a metaphorical way, I’m bowing to these animals,” Meteyer said.
That comes from a reverence she feels for the occupants of the world around her, whether humans, animals or something in between: a connection that brings her the powerful emotions she tries to express in her work, though she has a hard time describing what it’s like.
One time, when a friend asked her to describe her art, another friend interjected.
“I would say it’s dreamlike,” Meteyer recalled the second friend saying.
And that’s a great way to describe it. Meteyer’s illustrations verge from black and white meditations on floating in the ocean (see “Dreams on the Train,” the art that became the poster for her show), to Hayao Miyazaki-like dreamscapes, as in “Priestess of the High Desert.”
“Priestess” is a coming together of Meteyer’s influences. She’s always been fascinated by Miyazaki’s films, movies like “Spirited Away,” “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Princess Mononoke,” as well as his Japanese production studio, Studio Ghibli. Her artist name, “Kingdoms of Wild,” and her Instagram handle, @kingdomsof.wild, are both Miyazaki inspired. Though her art is very different, she’s always enjoyed “pulling from his work while dreaming up [her] own.”
That, combined with the feeling of interconnection she developed while living outdoors in places like the Hawaiian island of Maui, Moab, Utah, and Tahoe, California all culminated in “Priestess.”
“All of these experiences, especially my experiences outdoors, are what brought me this sense of connection,” Meteyer said.
They’ve also informed what she called her “unique spirituality:” a spirituality that comes from meditation on a particular emotion. The practice forms the basis of her work.
One of Meteyer’s favorite concepts, which she played around with in “Dreams on the Train,” is the concept of infinity — the ability to be infinitely big and infinitely small. She illustrated the piece on a train from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Chicago, but it came from a reflection on her relative smallness when in the ocean in Maui.
“When you’re totally swallowed up by the ocean and all you can see is this deep blueness, it makes me feel so expansive in my tininess,” Meteyer said. “When you realize that those things are real — and they’re humongous and they’re infinite — for me, that makes me feel huge.” ￼