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Life Review

Born and raised in Greenwich, CT, Anna Torlen frequented New York City art museums with her New York artist father, Michael Torlen. She became fascinated by artists such as Van Gogh, Cezanne, Monet, Willem de Kooning, Marcel Duchamp, Richard Diebenkorn, Alfred Jensen, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

She followed her passion for Abstract Expressionism and the “spiritual in art” as she attended College of Santa Fe in New Mexico. She discovered a common inspiration with Georgia O’Keeffe: Wassily Kandinsky. Later, in her graduate studies at Florida Atlantic University, she created an iPhone app, based on Kandinsky’s color theories for her Master of Fine Art’s degree.

While working at SITE Santa Fe, she met artists such as Susan Rothenberg, Bruce Nauman, Judy Chicago, Lucy Lippard, Paul Sarkisian, Jim Campbell, Ron Prokrasso and Barbara Kruger. She discovered more about artists that she loved who were also drawing from the New Mexican landscape such as Richard Diebenkorn and Georgia O’Keeffe.

At College of Santa Fe, she created a website for Charles Ross’ Star Axis project while she worked in the Public Relations office as the webmaster. She studied Conservation Science abroad in Tuscany, Italy, with other students from College of Santa Fe.

While in the sunflower fields of Tuscany, she was inspired by Leonardo DaVinci and Fra Angelico, which later inspired her Mother and Child painting. She visited the Convento di San Marco and admired Fra Angelico’s murals such as the Annunciation. She shared the same inspiration with Mark Rothko for a chapel and painted 12 angel paintings for stained glass windows.

When Anna was attending College of Santa Fe, she had the pleasure of listening to Clarissa Pinkola Estés read from her infamous book, Women who run with the wolves: contacting the power of the wild woman:

“She is ideas, feelings, urges, and memory. She has been lost and half forgotten for a long, long time. She is the source, the light, the night, the dark, and daybreak. She is the smell of good mud and the back leg of the fox. The birds which tell us secrets belong to her. She is the voice that says, ‘This way, this way.’

Women Who Run With The Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola-Estés, p11

In Santa Fe, she studied with artists: Nancy Sutor, Michael Kessler, Rick Fisher, Shelley Horton-Trippe, and Linda Swanson.

She would meditate at the Upaya Zen Center and while in the area, she visited the Santa Fe Institute, an institute for geniuses and gave direction to one of the scientist to help solve a math problem.

She was an active artist in the West Palm Beach Art Community as she attended art classes with Sam Perry at Armory Art Center as well as volunteered at the art library. She worked as a librarian’s assistant in the library and art library of Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, FL. She volunteered at Palm Beach Photographic Centre in West Palm Beach, FL and attended art shows and art talks. She attended a book-signing with Harry Benson in Palm Beach, FL.

She studied Computer Engineering and Multimedia Arts, at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL where she became a member of Phi Kappa Phi. Her work was featured in Remarque, FAU’s Graduate Student’s Art Show, and NYC Adafruit’s blog.

After working on Raspberry Pi and Arduino projects at Hacklab in Boynton Beach and studying Matlab with FAU’s professor, Oge Marques, she combined her experience and reviewed Raspberry Pi by Example for PACKT Publishing.

Her multimedia work at FAU, won her two awards for her creation of Mobile Applications for Ocean Environmental Awareness and for her video presentations of them.

She created a documentary for Boca Helping Hands in Boca Raton, FL where she volunteered to help those in need.

At FAU, Anna created her MFA thesis based on Kandinsky’s color and sound theories. Finally, Anna was able to express her color and sound theories that she culminated during her art therapy studies. She taught herself Swift and programmed an iOS mobile application with photographic functions and audio files. She used a midi library to express the correlation between color and sound. She shared Kandinsky’s color theories and coded the iPhone to take a photo and then play the notes based on the colors on the photo. (Watch Video Here)

In 2021, Google created a similar project, Sounds like a Kandinsky: Play a Kandinsky, using the exact same theories and technology. (Read More)

She created her own computer out of a wine box which she donated to an MIT student in hopes for Haiti to use as an example of how to assemble a low cost computer. With the help of members at Hacklab, she worked on making it solar-powered.

She coded a Raspberry Pi to open an OpenFrameworks application upon start up, coded an Arduino Leonardo, soldered the buttons, assembled a car monitor, and combined all of this in a wine box. She called it Keepsake Box and since she was one of the first to connect a monitor to a Raspberry Pi (before the kits) and she was inspired by Lady Ada’s Adafruit, it was featured in the Adafruit community blog in 2014. (Read More)

In 2015, Anna graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Media, Technology, and Art. She continued her Raspberry Pi adventures and applied her tech skills to Hacklab in Boynton Beach where she assisted others in the maker’s movement. She helped with Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and Solar-powered projects.

As a child, she spent many summers on Islesford, also known as Little Cranberry Island, in Maine with her artistic family. Her father painted the rocky landscapes of Arcadia and has some of his paintings featured in a book-noting the members of Arcadia’s artist community.

She would listen to artist, poet, and published author, Ashley Bryan’s poetry with such great passion. One day, while admiring his blue stained glass windows made from remnants of the sea glass found on the shores of Islesford beaches, Ashley told Anna that he sees the gift in her and that she has a soul of an artist.

During her early years in Connecticut, Anna attended Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich. She was not only artistic, she was a ballet dancer and athletic as well. She performed in the Nutcracker production at SUNY Purchase starring Fernando Bujones. Bujones danced and worked with Baryshnikov.

After dancing ballet, she played varsity basketball, lacrosse, field hockey, and soccer.

She practiced her basketball skills and shared the same court at SUNY Purchase while the New York Knicks practiced their free throws. She loved attending “season games” at Madison Square Garden in NYC with her father every year. She watched Michael Jordan slam a few dunks while the Chicago Bulls were beating the New York Knicks.

She graduated high school from Cardinal Newman High School in Palm Beach, FL. She won an award for her essay about God.

During high school and living on Palm Beach island, she worked at Sunrise Bootery and P.B. Boy’s Club and she attended services at St. Edward’s Church. While living in Palm Beach, singer, Rod Stewart told her to stay in school and she did for a very long time.

Later, in 2016, she painted St. Edward’s Church in honor of two of her Palm Beach friends that passed, Jessica Marulli and Alina Farinas. She had the opportunity to paint her gold leaf paintings in the Testa’s garage in Palm Beach, FL before it was torn down. Anna spent hours in St. Edward’s Cathedral, praying for guidance.

She earned an art scholarship at Rollins College in Winter park, FL. Following in the footsteps of Ansel Adams, another one of Georgia O’Keeffe’s inspirations, Anna, with love of nature, back-packed Yosemite National Park, California where she hiked and photographed her 3,000 ft. adventure.

When she returned to Rollins College, photographs from Yosemite in hand, she earned college credit by creating an independent study in digital imaging using Photoshop 2.5. At the time, Adobe Photoshop was fairly new and so Anna introduced it to the Rollins College art department. She photoshopped the beautiful Yosemite landscapes with industrial trash to build environmental awareness around humanity’s pollution habits and a complete disregard for the health of our planet earth.

Anna attended SALT Documentary Field Studies in Portland, Maine in the summer of 1998. While a faculty member wasn’t working on the set for the movie, Message in a bottle, he was teaching Anna sound editing. She learned HTML and website design. Her story was featured on the first page of the website. Her project was an interactive website, incorporating her audio and visual storytelling skills, that told a story about Emile, a man in Old Orchard Beach, who was grieving his wife.

In 1998, Anna was given an art scholarship to the College of Santa Fe since her charcoal and pastel drawings looked similar to Georgia O’Keeffe. Not surprising since they’re both born on the same day. She graduated on the Dean’s List from College of Santa Fe. Anna created an art show, ROAR, with two other “art therapy” friends. ROAR featured Anna’s series of window paintings from her 6-week stay in Tuscany, Italy.

After graduation, Anna applied for employment in all of art galleries on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. She was offering them her website designing services. At the time, before the common use of the internet, no one had the budget or the need for Anna’s website programming abilities. She had to teach others why her website skills were valuable. Because of this she had to stay in the educational field because there wasn’t a market, yet, for her abilities. No one shared her vision nor was interested or in need of a website.

Anna was told to apply for a computer job even though, she explained that the future is on the web and that they will be in need of a website and especially the art galleries.

Anna was familiar with the novelty of the technology situation because she created the first templates for the College of Santa Fe’s faculty with not a lot of enthusiasm at the time, since it was so new. She created an online clothing store for the president of the college. This was before Etsy or PayPal. This was 1999. Anna was working with BB edit and Photoshop, scanning slides, and coding HTML web templates.

Upon graduation, Anna created a printmaking portfolio in hopes of bringing it to New York City and see if she could gain employment at an art gallery or art center as as a website designer, printmaker, or graphic designer. She had her web and print skills. At the time, the art culture was still using print and just starting to use the web. Her story that she designed for SALT was one of the first print magazines to be coded for the web.

Alas, Anna didn’t find a place to work in New York City. She had an opportunity to visit an art therapy program in Burlington, VT and since no one was interested in her web, print, and graphic design skills she chose to search for an Art Therapy Graduate program.

Since Anna had a color theory that she wanted to explore in the healing arts, she interviewed with an art therapy program. They were not interested in color therapy, therefore Anna applied for a computer job and was placed filing x-rays in a hospital. She saved up enough money to move back to Santa Fe.

She moved back to Santa Fe with her printmaking, web design, and BA degree in hopes of finding employment. She didn’t find a job in her chosen field. She ended up working at the Jean Cocteau movie Theater at the concession stand. She met many celebrities such as Randy Travis.

She saved enough money to drive back to Florida and see if she could find employment in her print or web design field in Palm Beach county, FL. She didn’t.

She was discouraged, but her letter correspondence from Agnes Gund proved to keep her art spirits up and in the art game. Anna wrote to Agnes Gund telling her how her work of implementing Studio art time in classrooms of New York was has inspiring and in turn, Aggie Gund told Anna that she inspired her! Wow! That was impressive and gave Anna enough courage to keep creating!

She worked at Lighthouse Art Center and she assisted with an art shows for Robert De Niro, Sr. and Andrew Wyeth.

She was accepted into Architecture program at University of New Mexico, but decided to not return to New Mexico, yet. In 2000, Anna learned gold leaf by working with antique restorer, Alan Patrusevich, at Flamingo Art Studios, also known as “the hut”, in West Palm Beach, FL.

After finding employment using her experience as a graphic designer, web designer, and printmaker, she found a job as a silk-screen printer in Tequesta, FL, 2001.

After saving money, Anna visited Portland, Oregon apply her experience as a printmaker. She traveled to Portland, Oregon a few days after 9.11 and was given an opportunity to share her monoprint.

Bob Hicks wrote an article in the Oregonian, Artist gather, attempt to describe the indescribable, that quotes Anna, “It is called ‘God Bless America,’ and it has hints of pink: ‘After terror you want some hope.

She painted murals and shipped them to Florida as she returned after not finding any employment at Powell’s bookstore or printing/graphic design jobs.

Anna attended Southwestern College and worked in one of the Nation’s only metaphysical libraries, Quimby Memorial Library. Dr. Phineas Quimby was Christian Science founder, Mary Baker Eddy’s, doctor. She read his entire library and appraised the books for the library for the archives. She studied Otto Rank and wrote papers about Art as Therapy.

As a form of therapy and the Southwestern College Art Therapy program, she created Ceramics at Santa Fe Community College.

Anna volunteered her time painting with others and donated canvases to the Open Hands Art Center, a place where Santa Fe citizens could paint for free. It was founded by Southwestern College graduates.

In 2004, Anna worked at SITE Santa Fe and painted at Santa Fe Community College. She painted with Shelley Horton-Trippe and met many well-known artists at SITE Santa Fe.

In 2005, she finally found a job where she could use her printmaking skills at Signs and Images, printshop in Santa Fe. She printed signs and stickers for clients such as Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch in Taos, Sotheby’s, and set-design props for movies such as No Country for old men.

In 2005, Anna was offered an opportunity to be featured as an artist in Palm Beach Life magazine and she accepted. She decided to leave SITE Santa Fe just as Tom Ford arrived to design a show. She returned to Palm Beach, FL.

She was happy to return to Palm Beach island and worked at the Society of the Four Arts in the library and art library.

After spending a week at Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach in 2004, Anna applied her experience at Universal Living Sprouts in 2008. She helped sell sprouts to clients and educated the public about the vital healing properties of sprouts.

To further her web design skills, she attended Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, FL. She earned a graphic and web certificate hoping it would help her gain employment. She volunteered at Boca Helping Hands in the meantime searched for a job. She worked at Jerry’s Artarama art supply store and still searched for a graphic design or website programming job.

She attended a MFA program at FAU that incorporated her technology, art, documentary, and multimedia skills. Before graduating, she taught undergraduate courses at FAU. She worked at Hacklab coding Raspberry Pis and Arduino projects.

In 2015, she worked as a multimedia professor at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, FL. She taught undergraduate video editing, multimedia design, website design, and mobile application design.

In 2017, she had to leave Palm Beach State College due to her chronic illness. Earlier, in 2013, while she vacationed in Hilton Head, South Carolina, she was bitten by a tick. This tick gave her a Lyme (Bartonella) chronic tick-borne illness.

In 2016, while she worked as a professor, she attended yoga classes at Kula Yoga Shala in Jupiter and finished painting her series of gold-leaf paintings in 2016-2019, the Golden Transmissions.

These symbolic paintings were healing symbols and they synchronistically connected her to the U.K. She found that her 12-pointed star related to Hamish Miller’s 12-pointed star as a visual manifestation of a pattern of the earth’s dragon Earth-Energy of the Serpent Temple in Avebury, United Kingdom.

While teaching as a digital art teacher, she showed one of her gold leaf paintings, Metatron’s Cube, at New and Now Faculty Art Show at the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach, FL. 

She is recovering from Lyme disease. While she was bed-ridden, she studied the stars and became fluent in 13 sign Sidereal Astrology.

Currently, Anna works as an astrologist. She always felt her connection with the stars. She started studying astrology at a very young age. She saw her father’s paintings of astrological wheels and abstract geometry. She was interviewed about it by Andrena and Jeff for Australia’s Radio88FM.

In 2017, she met an Elven Shaman, Elen Elenna, online that she would continue to work with, while gaining more contacts and connections in Glastonbury, UK. Her earlier experience in Santa Fe, taught her the ways of the shaman, so when she met Elen, she knew how to follow the call of the drum and how to journey.

A few days apart, she met her herbalist doctor that saved her life. She is recovering slowly from Lyme disease. While she was recovering, she visited the Palm beach coast and greet the dolphins in the morning. Then she would pray and study the symbols of the unicorns and the lions in the stained glass windows of the Bethesda-By-The-Sea church in Palm beach, FL.

This inspired her to connect to the U.K. She joined “Dolphin Shaman” calls with David in Arizona. She healed with a cranial-sacral therapist at Upledger Institute in Palm Beach Gardens, learned Reiki, and worked with a world-renowned Chinese herbalist.

We do not rely on our physical senses alone; we rely instead on a synaesthetic dance of perception that includes our extraordinary faculties.

Silver Wheel: The Lost Teachings of the Deerskin Book by Elen Elenna, p264

While studying Hamish Miller’s earth work discoveries that were mirroring her paintings, she discovered Gary Biltcliffe and Caroline Hoare’s Spine of Albion work. She made a Google map for Gary Biltcliffe and Caroline Hoare’s Spine of Albion.

She created a book club on Facebook and met author and earth chakra shaman, Louise Carron Harris. Louise introduced Anna to a new way of working with earth energies, also called dragon lines. She connected to astrological events to earth changes.

Anna has an amazing capacity for shamanic astrology and uses symbols as a way of counseling and guiding others. As a shaman, she understands the language of symbols. Symbols in art and dreams is a language of alignment and destiny. She studied Shamanic Astrology online at Astrology Hub in 2018.

She studied Jungian Psychology and Art Therapy at Southwestern College in 2003, Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, and Art at Rollins College, and Counseling at College of Santa Fe in 2004. During her studies at College of Santa Fe, she did her internship at a counseling center in Los Alamos, NM.

During her Anthropology studies at Rollins College, she created documentaries, volunteered at Habitat for Humanity, and learned about John Muir. She was inspired to hike Yosemite National Park along some of the Pacific Crest Trail in the summer of 1997.

Anna was fascinated with eco-villages and stayed at the Hostel in the Forest, in Brunswick, Georgia. She studied the work of Buckminster Fuller and Findhorn Foundation in Scotland. Her parents’ community of artists were connected to Findhorn Foundation.

Her mother met Paulo Soleri when he was creating his bells. She visited the earthships in New Mexico and visited Paulo Soleri’s Arcosanti project in Arizona in 2002.

Later during her multimedia studies program at FAU, Anna created a documentary presentation of filmmaker, William Gazecki for his work about Jacques Fresco’s Venus Project. She has always been fascinated with earth work projects such as the work of Andy Goldsworthy, Charles Ross’ Star Axis, and Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty.

She has always been fascinated with Stonehenge. These connections were made when she had a Druid Astrology reading from Megalithomania speaker, author, and Stonehenge expert, Maria Wheatley.

We are engaging with the full range of our faculties, it is as though we are finally operating at our full capacity, restored to full working order. This is the light technology of ourselves, of our own human vehicles, becoming all that they are designed to be. This light technology, the radical sensitivity and wisdom of our angelic auras, is natural.

Silver Wheel: The Lost Teachings of the Deerskin Book by Elen Elenna, p264

As her meditation and star connection to her higher self strengthened, through her art activity, meditation, and shamanic communication with star beings, angels, and dragons strengthened as well. It wasn’t until she connected to shamans of the U.K. such as Elen Elenna, the Elven Shaman,  and Louise Carron-Harris that she connected to unicorns, dragons, gnomes, fairies, trees, plants, elementals, etc. It’s through astrology and shamanic journeying that Anna has been able to integrate all that she has learned from New York, NY; Palm Beach, FL; Santa Fe, NM; Greenwich, CT; Tuscany, Italy; Sedona, Arizona; Portland, OR; and Portland, ME. 

She is currently interested in Mayan Astrology, Starseed culture, and crystal skulls, reading the work of Jaap van Etten, and following Elen Elenna, Calista, Alexandra Wenman, Sue Coulson, and Lisa Raven. She is still recovering from Lyme disease and reading astrology charts at Green Dragon Astrology. She resides in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.

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