I have always been interested in the notion of beauty. Collage-based work allows me to explore the ideas of what is and isn’t considered attractive in our society, using contrast. I often juxtapose images from magazines (highly airbrushed, with full make-up and hair) against photos that I take of myself (absolutely no filters, make-up and definitely no airbrushing). The dissection of faces speaks to the surgeries and injections and other forms of self-abuse we inflict upon ourselves to look more attractive/younger/healthier.
2020 has been very unusual and strange, to say the least. COVID-19 took over our lives and then the Black Lives Matter movement took over news channels, with increasingly disturbing societal and economic dislocation. My work has understandably changed, and its subject matter did as well, as I tried to adjust to the new normal. I was suddenly a mother and a teacher and tried to maintain some sort of personal space and freedom but fell apart - the painting "Discombobulated" was born. "Light at the end of the tunnel" was next. I adjusted and I actually started to enjoy the new normal. I became closer with my children and enjoyed having them with me 24/7. My husband was working from home (and still continues to do so) and our family life took a turn for the better. I was enjoying the quarantine on a purely personal level! And then George Floyd was murdered, and I finally had the guts to educate myself on systemic racism and white supremacy and opened my eyes to a new perspective on the unfair world we live in and "Same and Different" was created.
What I’m trying to convey through my pieces is always made more interesting by what the viewer’s response to it might be. Some are attracted to these pieces; some find the images scary and others are unsettled by them. I am fascinated with those responses because they open up something in the viewer. These fragmented parts of faces disrupt our ability to recognize people, as a result, we attempts to make sense of what is presented and thus must access other areas of ourselves to come to a conclusion about what we are seeing. That’s the response I’m interested in.
- Joanna Czub