I make collages of lesbians. The making of art reveals to me who I am and who I’ve been through the lens of our nation’s collective history. Queer culture cannot be told without ascribing it to an historical narrative. An early feminist mantra, “the personal is political,” continues to be so meaningful for me. My intention is that my art educates and communicates the innate right of personal agency for all who are held at the margins of society.
I prefer working with collage because it is a natural medium for constructing queer, non-binary identity. The ordering and reordering of components replicates the personal choices and expressions that make a composite whole. I use the collage process in other mediums as well: bio art, plastic constructions, acrylic transfers, assemblage, and digital art. The freedom to switch mediums anchors me in experimentation and allows me various platforms to give voice to my concerns and interests.
Queer identity shapes me, defines my work, and guides my search to understand ageism, sexism and homophobia in their various forms. Oftentimes I present my figures transformed as heroic. My research and personal experience has led me to wonder, is the desire to know ourselves ultimately unintelligible and unattainable?This question continues to drive my work.
Jo Ann Block is a Los Angeles, CA based mixed media artist investigating queer history, sexuality and identity as they are inscribed within historical and contemporary culture. She aims to subvert existing norms around aging, power, and the social relevance of lesbians. She received her B.F.A. from UCLA, and M.F.A. from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work is in the collection of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art. She held a fellowship with Touchstone Gallery (DC), and two summer residencies at SVA in NY. Her work has been exhibited at A.I.R. Gallery (NY), American University Museum (DC), Transformer Gallery (DC) Williamsburg Art and Historical Center (NY) Metrospace (MI), Baum Gallery of Fine Art (AK), Thompson Gallery (MA) and Launch LA (CA).