A Living Book

by JoAnne McFarland in Artist Statements

The Issue of Safety

From an extremely young age, girls are told that they are
not safe in the world. This message is reinforced in countless ways through the
media, social interactions, school curricula, workplace protocols, and family
These messages come in many guises: stories about rape, stories about
shaming due to difference or daring, the proliferation of
enervated, emaciated, blank–eyed young women as cultural ideals, the
invisibility and lack of reward for female daring, risk–taking, invention, the
cloak of invisibility thrown over menstruation, menopause, coping with the
complexities of maturation, partnering, and women’s lust for adventure and
hunger for personal agency.

The Rewards of Curiosity


The creative life is a bold choice in that it is an active
practice of agency. A reverence and commitment to making is an active,
full–bodied pursuit.



A Living Book


The studio installation A Living Book is an open ended
celebration of the process of invention. A months long meandering endeavor, the parts of the installation are not permanent, and
function holistically, arising off my studio’s walls and windows as emblems of sacred
space. This space is internal as well as external, and serves as an extension
of my body.


Stenciling as a Means to Composure


The act of stenciling is healing in nature, a meditation
against violence and the resistance to change that characterizes many acts of

Stenciling references the insistence throughout human history of
using mark–making to create meaning, and for what we learn to be gifted and
treasured across time.
By ‘setting type’ letter by letter, by willing into
existence a haven against the message that my life must made safe by others in order to be liveable, I give myself the luxury of becoming naked on my own
And safe within that revelation.

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