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Interview with an artist: Joanne Dero


‘Home’ Exhibit by Joanne Dero

Aug 20 to Oct 20, 2015
Meet the artist: Aug 23 and Sept 27, 2015

Joanne Dero is a multi-disciplinary artist originally from Sainte-Thérèse, just north of Montréal, Québec. Raised in a family with strong multicultural roots provided enriching and varied experiences that nurtured her creative and artistic tendencies. She studied graphic arts at Collège Salette, drawing and painting at the Saidye Bronfman School of the Arts in Montreal and visual and creative arts at the Haliburton School of The Arts in Haliburton, Ontario.  Over the years she has continued her fine arts training through a variety of classes, workshops and mentorships with international artists such as Juan Schneider from Laval and Nathalie Garceau from Rosemère, Québec.  She also developed her interest in other art forms by taking classes in stained glass, mosaics and encaustic painting. Her interest in various creative disciplines also emerges in her professional life. As well as being a visual artist, she is also a published poet, a teacher and a translator. Her works are two dimensional, textured, often colourful, and sometimes flirt with becoming three dimensional. Exploring new techniques and experimenting with innovative uses of new and recycled material is important to her. It helps her consider new ways of perceiving and responding to the materials she uses and as a result, inspires her to discover new ways of responding to life. The cultural influences she gleans from her family and life experiences add depth and resonance to her art work. She is interested in traditional Ukrainian and Jungian symbolism, feminist art and spirituality. They are part of her personal calligraphy and are often recurring themes in her works. She uses them to reflect her interest and concern for social issues affecting women and children. This concern for women’s issues is the reason behind her commitment to donate a percentage of the sale of her work to a local women’s shelter.

1-What are the major themes in your artwork? You are using multiple mediums. What is your favourite to work with?
The major themes of my work are memory, home and relationships.

I find it difficult to choose a favourite medium because each has its own qualities and rewards. My use of paint satisfies my passion for colour and texture. I love drawing and playing with words, so my word art is an exercise in expressing ideas in simple yet meaningful drawings. The physicality of creating assemblages and installations fulfills my need to build and design things. And using each of these to explore the same theme opens so many possibilities of expression and meaning; I have a hard time limiting myself to only one.

house party 3 300[1]

Joanne Dero, ‘House party 3’’, 24 x 24’’, mixed media, 2014

2-How would you describe your paintings?
I realize more and more that my paintings are my way of processing ideas and experiences. They’re a personal narrative in a way; a commentary on what’s going through my mind or how I’m responding to things going on around me.

3-What project are you working on right now?
I’ve recently begun a new series which addresses our relationship with process. I’m using wax, paint, found objects, and a pattern from the ancient practice of Ukrainian egg writing which symbolizes life tasks, to create paintings, carvings, decorated eggs and assemblages.

4-How has your work evolved over the years?

My work is more reflective than it used to be, yet at the same time more spontaneous and free. I used to focus simply on the act of painting itself. Now I do more research into the themes, subjects, materials, and symbols that I’m considering for each body of work. And when I get to creating the actual works, I allow myself an enormous freedom of expression. I give myself permission to explore materials, techniques, and disciplines without judgement or reserve. I try things I’ve never done before. Sometimes it’s scary, but I’ve never been disappointed by the adventure. It keeps my work fresh. I see myself continuing and developing this process as I carry on creating art.

house party 4 300[1]

Joanne Dero, ‘House party 4’, 24 x 24’’, mixed media, 2014

5-Why did you decide to give a portion of your sale to a women’s shelter?
None of us are strangers to family violence. I think we’ve all heard of or know people who have struggled with it, or we may have experienced it ourselves. It’s been present in my own circle of family and friends. Because of this, I want to support and help women and children who are trying to escape destructive situations, and help them rebuild healthy and fulfilling lives.

6-What has being a member of AOE Arts Council meant to you as an artist?
Being a part of AOE Arts Council is a great experience for me. Since I moved to Ottawa in late 2013, becoming a member helped me integrate with the community and feel part of it. Through the Arts Council, I’ve received valuable information about art opportunities in the city, I’ve participated in conferences such as Artpreneur Ottawa, I’ve met other artists, and now I have the opportunity to exhibit in the AOE Gallery with another local artist.

7-Did you always want or thought of a professional artist career?
I remember that, even as a young child, when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d answer that I wanted to be an artist. Life has taken me on some interesting detours over the years, but I think they were essential for me to grow as an artist, and they brought me to the work that I’m doing today.

8-Tell us more about this exhibition ‘Home’?
My exhibition is an investigation into the definition and experience of home in a changing cultural context. The idea surfaced after I sold my childhood home in 2013 and embarked on an eighteen month nomadic existence, moving eight times in five different communities within Quebec and Ontario, until I settled in Ottawa. During this time I inevitably began to re-evaluate my understanding of home, though the idea of having a sense of belonging to a place has been a fascinating subject of consideration for many years.

My paintings are created with cold wax and oil on wood panels; the materials themselves speak of the historical significance and preservation of home. I deconstruct and reconstruct the symbol of a house to represent the search for home and its meaning.

Word art adds another dimension into the meaning I attribute to our idea of home. In small scale pen and ink works, I combine the written word and drawings to explore the meaning of home.

Assemblage pieces, made of new materials and found objects, continue this examination of home and what it means.

More about the artist

Quotes from Joanne Dero:

‘Using a combination of intuitive and research based approaches, I address themes such as memory, home, and relationships.  I deconstruct and reconstruct symbols related to these themes in order to explore their meaning. I use a variety of disciplines such as drawing, word art, painting and assemblage to explore my ideas.  Symbolism and colour translate meaning into my works and the use of papers, fabrics, found objects and photographs add texture and depth to the narrative. Exploring new techniques and experimenting with innovative uses of new and recycled material helps me consider new ways of perceiving and responding to these materials and to my themes.’

‘My poems are grounded in my personal perceptions and experiences.  They are my observations, commentaries, and reflections.  They deal with themes related to community, family, relationships, and aging.  They are my way of processing and understanding what I see and feel about the world around me.’

Thanks for sharing / Merci d’avoir partagé!

About The Author / À propos de l’auteur

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