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Joan Hall

US . Missouri . St. Louis .

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1. Red Tide and Oil Spills, 2001
Printing, pulp painting, mixed media, on handmade paper. 72x51x1.5 inches, 183x130x4 centimeters (6 layers)

2. Reef Knot, 2001
Digital collagraph, pulp painting, on handmade paper. 72x51x1.5 inches, 183x130x4 centimeters (5 layers)


“Knowing the past is as astonishing a performance as knowing the stars. Astronomers look only at old light. There is no other light for them to look at. This old light of dead or distant stars was emitted long ago and it reaches us only in the present. Many historical events….also occur long before they appear…”.1

Knowledge of the past helps one to chart the present. The stories, the systems, and the patterns, create the abstracted images used to plot my perception of the world. By using multiple layers of translucent and transparent papers, there is the impression of floating images, conveying deep memory of time. By creating physical layers of paper, like leaves of a suspended journal, the viewer is uncertain how to look at the work, but certain how to experience it physically. The layers are visible, but ultimately out of reach, both encouraging and obscuring images. Because the works are only attached at the top, air currents gently move the papers and taunt the viewer to fix the “right” perspective. Glimpsing the transparent images recalls the Renaissance concept of painting as a window onto the world. Rather than a fixed point of reference, the work offers multiple points of view.

Movement is an important component of my work, whether it is physical or implied. Early paper works and current installations explore free form shapes to compose the final works. The recent body of work, first exhibited at the St. Louis Museum of Art, are made up of the translucent layers of kozo and gampi papers that have been printed on and painted with paper pulps of abaca and cotton.

As I work on the body of work referencing navigation as metaphor, disparate images develop a cohesive narrative. Charting a course requires connecting a series of points in a sequence in order to realize one’s destination. In this same way my work embodies the navigational experience.

“Vision is not so much about what you do—but how you do it, its experience.”2

1 Kubler, George, 1962, The Shape of Time
2 A statement by Mau Piailug, a Polynesian sailor who navigates the seas without modern day instruments. They use intuition, memorization of the stars, and a large dose of self-confidence.


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