JoAnne’s Answers to Meagan’s Questions

by JoAnne McFarland in Artist Statements

August 2015


Q: How and when did you decide to become an


I’ve always been an artist. I can remember playing with papier mache when I was three or four years old and loving it.


Q: Growing up, which artists/types of art interested


My parents gave me an oil painting set for Christmas when I was seven, and that was my introduction to making fine art. I was fascinated by still lifes, and medieval iconography. My sister Lorna taught me how to sew when I was eight on the black Singer machine we had at home. I still love sewing and painting.


Q: How would you describe your work and what inspires it?


I love the creative process more than making any particular type of work. The process is incredibly erotic for me. I like working with light and the idea that any act is powerful when done with intention. I’m particularly invested in women’s erotic freedom and that’s a major theme in both my artwork and poetry.


Q: How did you go about getting into galleries? 


I carried my portfolio around, or sent slides, or later jpegs. And I kept my resume up to date. In 1980 I became a member of Phoenix Gallery, an artist–run space in NYC. From there, I showed in commercial galleries like June Kelly and Cinque Gallery. I became a member of another artist–run space, A.I.R. Gallery in 2002. All along I’ve also held open studios, a great way to sell work and generate interest.

Q: You’re also a published poet. How would you describe
your poetry style and the process of seeing your work published? 


My poetry also focuses on issues of freedom and creative expression, particularly for women. I love seeing my work published! I send poems out again and again, and then again. I don’t give up. My collections have been published by independent presses, and I’ve also self–published, a great way to learn how to really put a book together.


Q: Do you have a favorite piece of art and poetry? If so,
which ones and why? 


I’ve produced lots of work at this point, so I don’t have one favorite. I often work in series. In any one series there may be a few pieces that are particularly strong, or that are valuable in terms of what I had to do to achieve them. I’ve worked in lots of media—collage, printmaking, photography, oils. I love sewing too, and have worked as an interior designer, and space organizer. Stylistically, my poetry collections vary widely. I really like trying different things. I do have favorites in my personal collection of art by women, and that’s something I really believe in—supporting other women artists.


Q: What are your media of choice?


Right now I’m stenciling on the walls of my Gowanus studio. I also love working in oils, and making paper collages. I have a series of dress collages that’s extremely popular. I’ve been making them for about 20 years.


Q: Are there media that you haven’t worked with yet
but hope to soon? 


I’ve dabbled in video, and would like to do more. I also wrote a libretto for a five minute opera in four movements entitled MISSING, based on the story of Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp, and I’d like to write more.


Q: How did you get involved with A.I.R.? 


I was a member of the gallery for about ten years, and served on the Board of Directors. When a position with the staff opened up I applied and was hired. It helped that the artists already knew my management style, and could easily imagine me as Director of Exhibitions.


Q: To date, what has been the most rewarding experience
involving your artwork and/or being an artist? 


Just having personal studio space is a real joy, and a privilege. I’ve had my studio in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn for over 25 years.


Q: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to
become an artist?


Persistence matters more than talent. Refuse to give up! Find small ways to be seen. For instance, I always have greeting cards with images of my artwork at my open studios. Someone may not be able to afford a $4000 painting, but they will purchase a $5 card and send it to a friend. People who like your work will support you, if you find ways to let them.


Q: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you
would like to mention? 


I will have work in A.I.R. Gallery’s second annual If These Walls… exhibition in House 5B on Governors Island in August. My latest chapbook Loose Horse in the Valley: A Modern American Lullaby was just published by Red Glass Books. I only have 3 copies left!