I create mixed media, figurative, often large scale sculptures as a way to explore the intricacies of race and class, gender and sexuality. My work highlights how our engagement with these concepts is highly ritualized, and often unexamined. By juxtaposing objects for the home with archival research I ask viewers to think about how narratives of the domestic, family, and womanhood are complicated by a history of slavery, stolen labor, and racism, particularly in the U.S. and the Caribbean. I work with all materials, but consider ceramics and fibers to be foundational to my process and thinking because of their long history and aesthetic traditions in places like West Africa, Spain, and the Americas. The work, then, is an invitation to remember, examine, and engage in meaningful dialogue.
These masks are based on the masks worn by Vejigante, folkloric figures in Puerto Rico's version of Carnival. Origins of the figure are said to be from a reenactment of the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, and they are supposed to represent devils. For this series, I use lifecasting as a way to bring humanity back to the racial "other", the outcast, the one who is required to wear a whitewashed mask to function in society at large. These sculptures, just like my own Puerto Rican identity are a collage of parts - the tile represents the island's colonial legacy, the round head shape alludes to Akuaba, Ashanti fertility dolls, and Puerto Rico's connection to an African past, and the masks are important symbols in both African, and African American contexts.
From Around Here"
Original Artwork by Joann Quiñones
Printed by Kristin Sarette
Limited edition four-layer CMYK lithograph with screen printed layer.
The title for this collection of prints comes from the response to the common question “Where are you from?” This seemingly harmless question takes as its starting point the assumption that upon looking at someone, it is possible to conclude they are not “from around here”. Each individual in these photographs is a resident of Indiana (a Hoosier). The background is of the Touch the Earth Natural Area near Columbus, IN. In light of several incidents this summer, such as Christian Cooper’s experience as a Black bird watcher in Central Park, and the popularity of such hashtags as #blackbirdersweek and #blackinnature, I find myself contemplating how dangerous it is to believe that Black, Brown, and/or queer bodies do not belong in the places we live. Recognizing that the Touch the Earth Natural Area is located on the ancestral homeland of the Miami, Delaware, Shawnee and Potawatomi people, how can we become good stewards of nature in a way that is not centered on property, ownership, or possession? Who gets to decide what is native, what is natural, what is invasive? Which bodies, like trees and plants, have a right to occupy space? Why are some spaces deemed natural and worth preserving, and some are not? Through each portrait I aim to have the viewer question their own assumptions about who belongs in nature, and who is from around here.
The artwork recreated in these prints was originally produced for Paper Pavilions, a show curated by Sean M. Starowitz.