JoAnna Jonhson

Artist Statement.

30 Dresses
The work is part performance art, part textile culture, part feminist statement, part installation art, and part photography. These images are haunting because of the presence reinforced by the absence of the wearers of these dresses. This other worldly feeling becomes stranger and more keenly understood as the locations and displays change. There is the strength of a sisterhood of the group brought together. The gentleness and grace of the female spirit inhabits the spaces where these dresses slowly dance as memories of past gatherings, and feminine rituals. They are soft, flowing, and vulnerable as black orchids, and of course, as silent as the grave. The silence in these pictures is deafening, while everything in them and around them seems to be holding its breath. These photographs are suggestive and poignant, leaving one with the feeling that, as viewers, you are walking among victims and goddesses all at the same time. I have constructed more than 100 dresses in the last eight years to photograph in the landscape. The 30 Black dresses are the most recent. I cut, sewed, and ironed each one. They are reminiscent of late 19th century women’s attire, but their blackness somehow neutralizes them, or even transforms them into negative space. I place the “empty” dresses in a variety of natural settings across the United States.

JoAnna received her MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2000. She has been part of group exhibitions far and wide from Berlin and Tokyo to Philadelphia and Fargo, ND. JoAnna has had a variety of solo exhibitions including an exhibition at Alan Klotz Gallery in New York. Her work has been published in books and magazines. JoAnna has also received grants from galleries and non-profit organizations. As part of these grants, JoAnna has worked with children ages 10-14 exploring storytelling and body image. She has also taught photography and design courses as a visiting instructor in both the School of Art and Design at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Texas Tech University.
JoAnna not only makes photographs, but also various forms of collage and assemblage using found objects including her dresses.

Lubbock, Texas has been her home for the last four years and her current body of work focuses on the region’s landscape. JoAnna is represented by Alan Klotz Gallery, 511 West 25th St., New York, NY, She is excited to be moving to Austin, TX in July 2010.