Welcome to Art Attack Here !
Joanne Oviatt's home and studio are in Pittsfield. Her husband,
Keith, takes an active roll in his wife's art by serving as
model, carpenter, mover and critic. "My sons," Oviatt
says, "think that their mother is a bit strange, especially
when I say that I am waiting for a gourd, rock, or a piece
of wood to speak to me."
When asked where she gets her ideas, Oviatt said, "Nature
and the study of different cultures both past and present
provide the inspiration for much of my art. Rather than recreating
nature or cultural icons, the thought process melts the images
into stylized forms meant to stimulate the viewer's sense
of esthetics." Joanne goes on to say, whether the material
is metal, wood, paint, clay, sawdust, fiberglass or gourds,
she tries to maintain the integrity of the material, but that
doesn't mean that its versatility isn't stretched to the limits.
"For example, we grow our own gourds" she says.
"Everything about watching them grow sparks ideas. No
two are the same. By treating the natural forms as the beginning
of a piece of sculpture, the resulting pieces with names like
'Prayer Blossom' or 'Primitive Elegance' is a pleasant surprise
for the viewer." By using acrylic clay for faces and
hands along with feathers, fur and paint, the pudgy little
gourds become part of the "Grandmother Series."
Other odd-shaped gourds need intricate cut-outs to release
The term "recycling" used with the word "art"
usually conjures up the junk collage image. One of Joanne's
larger sculptures is a life-sized figure titled "The
Grand Design." It is created from recycled copper flashing
and challenges that junk image. The figure sits on a faux
rock made of recycled particle board, construction foam and
paper grocery bags. A plumb bob is suspended from his right
hand. The tip of the bob creates intricate designs in the
sand at the base of the Plexiglas cube on which the figure
sits. "It is important to practice what you preach,"
she says, "and recycling is part of nature's grand design."
Her most resent sculpture, titled "What Goes Around Comes
Around," sends a similar message.
Oviatt paints in acrylics and watercolors. Her paintings
often tell a story, as in the Cornplanter series. The colonial
flag is in each of the three paintings. The paintings show
Cornplanter first as a young man with the flag draped over
his arm. Then, he is a middle-aged negotiator with Jefferson,
and the flag is thrown over the back of the chair. In the
final painting, The Educator, he is an old man who helps his
people learn a new way of life. In this painting, the flag
is rumpled on the ground along with his discarded English
cloths. A wolf, a reflection in a mirror, a chair, and a puff
of smoke also help tell the story.