INTERTWINED NARRATIVES                                                                                                                                             

 Visually, I explore life’s multifarious journeys… journeys taken alone and/or together as multiple narratives in the same work with one, two or three figures as portraits or full-bodied figures, always with the felt presence of water if not the actual setting of water. 

 Symbols appear in my work much the same way symbols seep into language, into writing, our human psyche and color our shared human experience. Culturally, symbols abound often taking on new meanings over time. What interests me conceptually is that nothing, including thought stands still, things change, time moves on and the same is true for human perceptions, dreams and memories.

Sources for my work include my drawings from life, images from popular culture and history, my photography and invented imagery. When two or more images find each other, gently or forcefully collide, the conceptual part of my art is sparked and my work begins.

 The figure and water have been apart of my work for as long as I can remember. I chase after the figure and water as ideal, breathtaking and elusive symbols of positive and dark energy and fuel for making implicit narratives. My imagery of the figure, often female, often in the prime of life acts as a universal reference to the spirit within all humanity. For me, images of the body and images of water evoke a similar sense of mystery and passion. Water may symbolize goodness as rejuvenation, rebirth, cleansing and purification; in Baptism, a holy sacramental power; also healing, ritual and ultimately the life force; can also symbolize melancholy, danger, disease, evil, destruction, havoc or death as in a hurricane, typhoon or tsunami. My work asks the viewer to consider water and its symbolic meaning. What about “taking the waters” as one might in Saratoga, Queen of the Spa cities, or the luminosity of water, similar to the luster of a precious stone, which suggests value. There is to “water down” which implies action resulting in less value. Water is fascinating as one of the four elements, the mysterious domain of the god Poseidon and essential for a healthy life, as the eight glasses we should drink daily.

 I love painting because it is physically and intellectually demanding and paint, a viscous fluid, moves. I draw and paint in order to feel, think and move. Visual problem solving is the most challenging and satisfying part of my work. I search for the right psychological and visual resolutions. At some point my paintings take on a specific temperament and dictate how I should proceed. My job, in kind is to respond to the direction the painting takes. Technically, I challenge myself to experiment resolving juxtaposed contrasts. I strive to preserve some areas of the golden under painting to make the heavier dense surfaces appear to have greater weight. I also intuitively contrast subtractive and additive processes: scraping versus blending, incising lines within blocks of tone, transparent glazing versus opaque impasto and limited color versus full color spectrum pallets or monochromatic versus complimentary color relationships, soft versus rough tactile textures, illusions of deep against somewhat flatter space in thematically related yet formally varied or unique compositions.

 Big heartfelt thanks to Skidmore College for my 2013 spring sabbatical during which time nine compositions were conceived. Thanks also to dear friends Selma Nemer and Pierre Zimmerman for their beautiful meditation class at One Roof, so applicable to the art making process. Appreciation goes to friends and special thanks to my family for often going without, while I put my painting first.

 Joanne Vella