Artist of the Month: April 2015


‘Color Braid’- cut-paper installation;- 3′ x 12′
My current studio practice encompasses drawing, mixed-media works on paper, paintings, soft-sculpture, and cut-paper sculpture/installation.

The works featured in ‘Chroma is Key’ are a ‘sampler’ of my recent explorations of color, texture and form involving repetitive, meditative pattern and rhythm, inspired and informed by a diverse range of influences ranging from fashion and film to my love of nature in all its myriad manifestations and my passionate avocation as a gardener with a fondness for unusual and exotic plants.

My intention has been to take on the challenge of working with color again; with paint, paper and fabric; after a nearly ten-year hiatus; and to make work which evokes a sense of joy amidst the austere socio-economic backdrop of The Great Recession, which has impacted my own life and that of virtually everyone I know.

Choosing to create ‘Slow Art’ from paper, paint, fabric and scissors which is high-touch, low-tech, involving hands-on artisanal labor, is my way of pushing back against the technological tsunami of digital information overload generated by social media and the cultural obsession with life as a trivial pursuit.

‘Higgelty-Piggelty’- Oil stick & gesso on paper;- 4’x 9′;
“a series of drawings of biomorphic cartoons can lead to creating a series of mixed-media assemblages working with a vocabulary of shapes derived from the drawings, which can then evolve into a cut-paper installation. In the end, it’s all inter-related.”-Jodiann Strmiska

Left: ‘Tumble-Bunnies’- soft-sculpture installation- set of 8 felt/foam/wire heads
Right: ‘Bluebeard;- cut-paper sculpture;- 22″ x 35’
Q. How would you describe your artwork/style?
A. Multi-disciplinary and maverick. My current studio practice encompasses drawing, installation, soft-sculpture, and mixed-media assemblage.

Q. What medium do you work in?   
A. Mixed-media including: felt, paper, pom-poms, wood, paint, graphite, and sharpies. At present, I am very involved with working with color, pattern, and texture and am involved with creating my own form of fiber-art from cut-paper and cut-felt which I fashion into elongated dresses, wall hangings, and ‘mandalas’.

Q. What is your process like? 
A. Either I start from an idea which dictates the materials and methods used; or, I start with a color or specific material which dictates the form and idea. Usually, I like to work on developing a series of works, which can then become a point-of-departure for works in other media. Hence, a series of drawings of biomorphic cartoons can lead to creating a series of mixed-media assemblages working with a vocabulary of shapes derived from the drawings, which can then evolve into a cut-paper installation. In the end, it’s all inter-related.

Q. What inspires you? 
A. Inspiration often comes in the guise of a delightful surprise. I am inspired and influenced by nature as much as I am by fashion, film, and music. As a 21st-century female artist, I am indebted to pioneering  20th-century artists like the late, great, Louise Bourgeoise, and sculptor Louise Nevelson, both of whom had the courage, willpower, and persistence of vision needed to break new ground and create  authentic, brave, innovative work amidst a male-dominated art-world.

Q. How do you think you’ve changed or developed as an artist?
A. With age and experience, there comes a sense of urgency about cutting-to-the-quick and getting at the essence of things. I am much more results-oriented now at age 60 than I was at age 30, as I simply do not have the luxury of time to devote to endless experimentation. I now create art from a place of focused intention to a far greater extent than ever before, utilizing the most direct and economical materials and methods available to create art invested with a sense of personal authenticity.

Q. Can you tell me about your participation in the ‘Chroma is Key’ exhibition at The Schelfhaudt Gallery at University of Bridgeport? What will you have on view at the ‘Forever Young’ exhibition?
A. When Gallery Director Peter Konsterlie told me I’d be exhibiting with a group of artists from Brooklyn including Mark Sorgatz, Chris Moss, Cheres Espinosa, and an artist from New Haven;- Mark Williams; who is a ‘cave-artist’;  for ‘Chroma is Key’ , I was very excited! The Schelfhaudt Gallery is a beautiful space and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase a growing body of cut-paper sculpture and mixed-media work. Exhibiting in a university setting affords an artist an opportunity to have their work viewed in an educational context. I was flattered to discover that one of Professor Konsterlie’s art history students had written a paper about my work , from a ‘Pop’ Art perspective’ comparing my work to the Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama, who is one of my art-heroes!

The upcoming ‘Forever Young’ exhibition at City Lights will feature my ‘Power Flower’ Mandala # I; which is one of a current series of cut-felt and pom-pom ‘mandalas’ which have a ‘in-your-face’, funny yet beautiful presence which is ageless, if not ‘Forever Young’.

‘Color Whirls’;- set of 8;- House Paint on Wooden Barrel-tops;- 12″-28″ diameter
Q. You’re presently teaching a teen drawing class at City Lights Gallery. How would you describe your experience teaching? Has it influenced your personal drawing style? 
A. My approach to teaching drawing is about learning to see and draw from direct observation. Working with Bridgeport high school students who show promise is rewarding, as these kids are living in a time when many schools have cut arts programming from their standard curriculum. Encouraging these young people to find ways to integrate art into their daily lives via local cultural venues like The Housatonic Museum of Art and City Lights Gallery is key to developing their potential and expanding their curiosity about Art. This experience has made me realize what a privilege it is to be an artist with an active studio practice and to have had recourse to the education and cultural resources I had as a young art student.

Q. You’re an avid gardener. Can you share a bit why you’re so connected to the gardening field? Would you say your passion for gardening influence your creative process? 
A. Gardening is a visual art-form as it involves color, pattern, texture, scale and spatial composition. I like to say that my garden is my ‘outdoor studio’, as it involves an analogous process to my indoor studio practice. Instead of working with inert materials like paint and canvas, I work with flowers and plants to create outdoor ‘living rooms’. I became enamored of gardening when I dropped out of the NYC Fashion Industry, where I worked as a Textile Colorist and Designer in the 1980’s and moved back to CT to begin life anew. My avocation has led to opportunities to work as a freelance gardener on residential projects on a seasonal basis in Fairfield County. Gardening keeps me grounded and connected to nature and the great round of life.

Q. Any other upcoming news or events you’d like to share?
A. I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed at my studio by Mike Lauterborn for the currently available Spring, 2015 edition of Fairfield Living Magazine, which is a sister-publication of Fairfield Hamlet Hub and is distributed throughout Fairfield County.

For further information on my artwork and garden services Jodiann Strmiska can be contacted via email at All serious inquiries are welcome!