Joanna Axtmann

“Drawing is active seeing. Making art is a way to be an active participant in life. Showing these images to you completes the cycle.

I am always looking – seeing the way one color lays against another, the way surface deteriorates, creating texture and pattern and how a structure maintains its integrity. I come across images that attract me visually and also trigger my concern for the human condition. Inspired by natural and urban environments, I am particularly drawn to destructive forces – sudden and gradual, older architecture – particularly buildings used for spiritual practice and also human detritus. When I experience beauty especially if coupled with destruction, I am compelled to share this experience. Satisfaction comes when I complete a series and exhibit them, listening to stories the viewers tell – creating another layer of the initial inspiration.

My life divides into many intersecting and cycling paths: reciprocal education, inspiration, exhibitions, travel, socio/political and environmental concerns.
I grew up in NYC continually making images – art was a passion and a mode for survival. Though I have “terminal” degrees, I continue to study art, learning about new media as I can and embracing new ideas. I stay open to what students are experiencing and guide them into stronger personal relationships to art making and toward self-realization. I encourage students to see more as well as make art. This heightened awareness enhances their lives. My teaching is reciprocal – I learn with the students about art making, articulating ideas and life in general.

International travel, through visiting artist grants, has formed the basis for many investigations that lead to my images. I thrive on diversity and find exploring new ways of thinking and living exhilarating. I lived in NYC, the mid-west and on the west coast before moving to D.C. in 1998. All of these locations, as well as stays in Mexico, Russia and India have greatly influenced my life and work. My imagery combines life events with visual experience and the commonality I find while studying another way of being.

Socio/political and environmental concerns give rise to a desire to express those concerns in an articulate and transformative way. My art making and teaching skills support numerous causes and people. The beauty of my surface may appear to be a contradiction to the issues involved but it serves as a way to enable the viewer to consider difficulties. Beauty is a threshold to communication and healing.”

Joanna Axtmann holds a Master of Fine Arts and a Master of Art degree from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a Bachelor of Art degree from Grinnell College,
Grinnell, Iowa. In addition, she has studied at the Art Students’ League, the Parsons’
School of Design, and The New School, all in New York City. She has exhibited widely, in solo and group gallery shows and in museums, both in the U.S. and abroad. She has also taught drawing, painting, papermaking, printmaking and mixed media in University and College settings. Currently she teaches Printmaking and Drawing at University of D.C. Independently, she offers Studio Workshops and Retreats providing an individualized curriculum in a broad range of materials to participants who range from professionals to beginners.