Joan’s interest in art began with painting. Under the guidance of her Aunt, Ann Santelli, who was an abstract expressionist painter in the 1960’s and ’70s, she began studying in NYC at the Westbeth Center, the Art Students League, and took classes with WPA painter, Rita Helfond in the mid-1970s. Later, while studying at Rutgers University, she received a BA with an emphasis in Sociology and Fine Art. Under the instruction of Leon Golub, Joan developed an interest in social/political ideas with an emphasis on environmental issues. This led to an investigative painting series, in search of toxic waste sites traveling throughout New Jersey. Due to the lethal nature of the subject, she felt the need to step beyond pure paint and began adding collage elements to her oil paintings. This evolved to a fascination with Dadaist and Surrealist concepts, which extended to an interest in found objects and other collage techniques, which has continued as her primary method of working to this day. In 2011, Joan opened Hamilton Street Gallery in her hometown of Bound Brook, together with her husband, Brian McCormack, who is also an artist. Since then, they have established relationships with many artists, which has been educational as well as rewarding.
I’m drawn to the media of collage because I enjoy the tangibility of working with different types of materials. The handling of varied surface textures, along with the fluidity of oil paint inspires me to express myself precisely and creatively. Experiences and events continually propel my sensibilities and influence content and subject matter which most often is social/political in nature.
For the Pro Arts membership webpage, I have chosen two series of collages. The first can be described as environmental with an emphasis on the current devastation of lands and forests. For many years, I have worked as a professional gardener, and use the concept of a garden as a motif in many of these pieces. Both natural and man-made materials were applied with the addition of oil paint so to convey a surreal complexity of moods to reflect upon.
The second series involves the issue of gun violence and the overextended lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association with its influence regarding political decisions on gun control. In addition to painting and collages on canvas, some pieces are constructed of printed images of handguns, rifles, assault weapons, and their accessories, which are glued down and enhanced with colored pencils. They are figurative in nature and reminiscent of a song and dance routine complete with spotlight and sexy moves. My objective is to unmask this hoofer as a film flam man of sorts, who mesmerizes all who come to see the show in the political arena.