I'm Anneliese Dehner (day' ner). Here's a little info about who I am, what I do, and what’s important to me. I grew up in small Southern towns and then studied art at a big state school. In college I focused on traditional printing techniques, completely ignoring the field of digital art growing around me. Between classes, I worked at the first free standing college library in the country. It was in this special collections repository that I fell in love with library special collections. So much so that upon completion of my B.F.A., I felt torn about which path to take: art or library science. A painting professor asked me why I needed to choose. Why not both?
In 2006, I accepted a position at a liberal arts college library in Portland, Oregon, where I shifted from traditional library cataloging to metadata applications and workflow automation. I was lucky to have two incredibly supportive mentors who fed my new hunger for mashing up design, data, and code. And when the library created a small Digital Initiatives department, I was invited to join. During my 6 years in the department, I designed and developed a lot of academic digital projects, some based on faculty grant-funded research and some supporting curricula ranging from the sciences to the arts. On the side, I started taking on freelance work, building digital projects for knowledge sharing organizations outside of academia. And through this side hustle, I saw an unmet demand for technical support: organizations and individuals with digital collections and specialized technical needs but without funding to employ full-time technical staff. Seeing this opportunity to help and feeling a desire to collaborate across public and private sectors, I left the library to venture out on my own.
I’ve been on my own as a designer, web developer, and metadata wrangler since 2015. My work focuses on improving the design and usability of digital collections and helping to broaden the reach of these collections. Back in my printmaking days, I printed because the print is a "democratic medium", affordably putting art in front of more eyes. Today, I do what I do to connect more people to the stories that digital objects tell.
In November 2018, I felt buoyed by the mid-term election results. 117 women were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. I didn't know much about these women, but I knew they'd broken the mold of a traditional representative. If I'm honest, I wasn't a political person. The democratic party even sent a flyer to me informing me that I was an "average" voter, that I could do better. But seeing the record-breaking diversity in congress inspired me; I wanted to know more about the people representing us. So I set out to learn more about democratic congresswomen, studying their backgrounds, and drawing their faces. This study developed into Dem Women of the House, a 2020 calendar.