fig. 46: Calle de la Eternidad
Mural, 62'x42', 4th & Broadway, LA
© Johanna Poethig

fig 47: Calle de la Eternidad
Mural, 62'x42', 4th & Broadway, LA
© Johanna Poethig

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Artist Statement
Johanna Poethig

As humans we have a choice to survive and evolve or destroy ourselves and the life systems that support us. I see our lives, individually and collectively, as an evolving work of art and cultural creation that takes our greatest intellectual, intuitive, emotional and physical effort to shape. In my life I have searched for balance between the individual and the social being, between internal and external worlds. In this capitalist, patriarchal era, art has primarily become the pursuit of the individual, and success is measured in the interests of business. The race/sex/class themes of domination are ever present.

My studio work searches for forms through which I can make a satirical critique of our lives in consumerist capitalism. The public performances, CD and videos I have made over the years enjoy a seriously silly trashy feminist low tech approach. My interest in public art grew out of my desire to do art that would be meaningful in a social context and to have the opportunity to exchange and cross cultures through the artistic process. I want to do work that provides an alternative to prevailing marketplace values and limited understanding of the potential of an inclusionary arts to transform society. To paint monumental murals in an urban landscape reclaims public space from the advertising industry and the cold corporate aesthetic. I practice my theory by working in collaboration with other artists and the public, people, space, landscape while at the same time developing work that manifests my personal vision.

As a woman I am very aware of the developments in collaborative, community based/related art that have come out of the feminist perspective. I think we must look at the way women have always worked cooperatively together, caring for their families and communities while creating everyday works of art in their homes, in their dress and for ritual and celebration. These values and methods of working translate into today's public art processes. Because we share this way of life I enjoy working with women and this is deeply important to me.

I relish the challenge of making a site into a place. I like the adventure of working in public and with the public. I love the demands of the architectural scale. Public art requires physicality, of creating with your whole body and of relating to the environment directly. It requires strength and stamina and the efforts of a coordinated group of people. Collaboration is a unique skill which I have developed over the years. To collaborate is to explore ways of thinking and working that are ever changing as new minds come together. It is also a way of defining one's own priorities and aesthetics.

The public art world is often very frustrating. The constant applications, rejections, competitions, project development, and protracted processes are discouraging. Patience and persistence are necessary. At the heart of it all is to stay focused on what can and needs to be done and what is important. I feel lucky to have been able to do this work and plan to continue my work as an artist and cultural activist.

Statement · Biography · Bibliography


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All text © Johanna Poethig.