Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Artist as Writer

I have spent my life transforming my thoughts to visual images.

Personal emotions that I might never articulate because of shyness, or because I just don't know how to, have shown up in my art work. My lifelong search to be an artist has been realized through my paintings that are often populated with imaginary people who express my joy, my pain, my longing, my curiosity and more. I can be other characters through art. I can be young or old, male or female, even a bird or tree...My paintings inhabit who I am. I articulate my concerns for my community around racism, sexism, and fairness by painting my responses to these issues. I tell the story about the lives of slaves from my perspective and tout their resilience in a series I call
Survivor Spirits. I honor my family ancestors through another series I call Pillars

My need to be educated about my history and the world has inspired me to educate others. Art allows me that. People see in my paintings pages and chapters summed up in one visual image. 
Now, I am also embracing my love of words. I have been writing an art blog for a couple of years. Text has crept onto my visual images and the images have grown to include multiple pages. I have had my writing published at the Museum of the African Diaspora's "I've Known Rivers" project, for the Chicago Now blog run by an unnamed major Chicago newspaper, The Studio Project  the Department of Cultural Affairs operates this year and more...to my surprise!

This blog will present my art but mostly my words and some of the things I have learned and would like to share with you. For example, I discovered some time ago that I believe in play and taking chances. Art allows me to indulge that tendency. I have always had it. My friends were shocked when I pierced my own ears, or straightened my own hair or dyed my shoes pink, just because I wanted to. But I was foiled each step of the way when I went too far, and finally tried to conform. I never really have, but I lived a safer life than I really wish I had...I want my own sons to believe in that sense of play and adventure. Safety is over-rated. If we don't take intelligent chances, we don't get anywhere! My curiosity was often squelched when I was young, traded for safety. But I don't advise it and so here I am...an artist who had hoped and believed my work could speak for me, now recognizing I have always been a writer and always immensely interested in expressing myself through words, too.


  1. I've updated you on my blog so there's one of those "thumbnail" thingies, and I'm your first follower. Safety in art is overrated. My newest watercolors are most likely to be named the X & Y because they are so full of unknowns, or maybe just "the river" series, due to all the connotations of rivers.

  2. Thanks for sharing. R. Tillotson

    1. You are welcome, R. Tillotson...sorry I am so late responding.

  3. Glad to see you embracing your inner writer Joyce. Artists have a lot to say, and as you know I don't believe we need to say it only through our visual work. We too can articulate the issues, thoughts and personal reflections that shape the world around us. All best with this new blog.

  4. Good for you, Joyce! I look forward to reading more of your thoughts. Sometimes one art form isn't enough to accomodate all the expression we have inside us.


  5. Thanks all. Your support is immensely important!

  6. Thank you Joyce, for making the choice to be "of the world", and not just "in the world".

    Good art to you!


  7. I've known you for a long and wonderful time, Joyce. You've always been a bold, brave and truthful sister. Keep telling your stories, truths and reflections through all and every form available to you and your spirit. Freedom is a glorious thing---and as you so well put it---"safety" is highly overrated!

  8. Joyce,
    happy to hear that your art continues to grow. It's been a long time since the days of the 2nd floor of Locke Hall. I spoke to Clay Goss last week, he's alive and well in B-more. Drop a line when you have a sec.
    Take care,

  9. Kudos on your new blog, Joyce. How impressive that you blog at two or more sites while many of us struggle to keep up with just one. I continue to be inspired by your art and your insights. Thanks, Jeff Fearing