After losing her home, studio and decades of artwork to the 2017 wildfires that ravaged through Northern California, artist Joanne Fox latest body of work addresses themes of trauma, loss, hope, and a sense of rebirth.
When clearing out burned tree branches, Fox thought about how the incinerated wood could be utilized anew. A few days later she gathered burned branches of various sizes and a variety of trees: Madrone, Fir, Live Oak, Coastal Oak, Manzanita and Redwood, as well as pieces of charred lumber from the wreckage of her studio. The artist explains her resulting work further: “I began working on a series of thirty-five drawings expressing the force and terror of the wildfire and of my undying desire for renewal and regrowth. I wanted to make manifest the idea that though life involves loss, it doesn’t end there. Loss marks the way toward something new.”
Fox also works with oil on canvas and her paintings are bold statements, using color, gesture, composition and scale to capture attention and generate emotional and physical responses. Many are purely abstract, while others have a figurative subject or even buildings and landscape. What ties them together as a body of work is their adherence to an architectural composition that underlies each one, providing structure and grounding for the viewer who is then invited to indulge, with the artist, in the pleasures of paint as it embodies movement, gesture, accident, and emotion. Joanne Fox’s more recent oil paintings have turned away from urban iconography to delight in the magic of the changing seasons in the northern California landscape. As such, this is a meditation on life’s state of constant change – as the summer turns to fall, as day and dusk turn to night, the artist reminds us to be present to the beauty before us, while being ready to let it go.
Joanne Fox has a BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and an MA in Art and Anthropology from Goddard College in Vermont. She has shown in galleries across the United States, and has work in numerous private and corporate collections.