2016 Brandford/Elliott Award for Excellence in Fiber Art Recipient
Joanne Arnett combines the practices of photography and textiles into a single discipline. Her work explores the dualities of transience and permanence, public and private, the mundane and the extraordinary. She grew up in the Midwest surrounded by cornfields, then moved to Germany and worked as a fashion stylist. Sunny skies lured her to California where she spent several years as a wedding photographer before making the transition to fine artist. She moved to Ohio to pursue a graduate degree and currently lives on the banks of the Cuyahoga River. She believes hay fever is a fair price to pay to see fireflies each summer.
Joanne states, “I am fascinated by moments where one is both participant and observer. To recreate that liminal space I stage mug shots, transforming myself into people caught between guilt and innocence, aware that a personal situation is being documented for public record. Hand weaving soft, fluffy yarn with shiny, silver wire allows me to transform the image into an object, making portraits that are as vivid, yet as elusive, as the fleeting sensation I’ve captured. I render the staged photographs in large scale with saturated colors in an effort to envelop the viewer and provoke an emotional response before the image becomes visible. The image slips away as the viewer navigates the work, lost in the textured intersection of matte and shine. Requiring physical engagement with the artwork in order to see the image creates an unexpected dynamic between viewer and the character portrayed. I want to make the viewer want to look, to want to see that person, to want to figure out the story behind that moment, while I transform the vulgar into the sublime. ”
“Weaving wakes up the familiar images of people we could easily dismiss. The portraits function as giant daguerreotypes, but rich with texture and color. Viewers become lost in the narratives they create for the characters pictured. They want to know more about them. The pieces imbue viewers with empathy and wonder. In a society where people are flooded with images, it is powerful to witness people stop and look. ”
The pieces presented here are part of an ongoing project started in 2012, 2013.