Joyce Koskenmaki

My work reflects my surroundings, here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The particular kind of north woods landscape, its trees, rocks, lake, waterfalls, animals are what imprinted me as a child and to which I came back in 1998, looking for that which felt like home.

I was trained as an abstract expressionist painter in graduate school. This grounding has carried me through a lifetime of finally working with imagery. Shapes and negative spaces form the skeleton which holds the meanings, both articulate and inarticulate, of my expression. For two years, recently, I did nothing but small abstractions. Now I approach my imagery through that work.

I continue to paint birch trees, symbol and metaphor for our relationship to that spirit underlying nature. And animals continue to appear in my work in various guises. One recent direction had to do with the animals of the Kalevala, the old Finnish epic. The beauty and mystery of its images are haunting. Why does the gray dog keep barking?