Joan Jonas: Drawings | Art21 “Extended Play”

March 2, 2020

Shown drawing in her Manhattan studio and performing on stage at the Umeå Jazz Festival in Sweden, Joan Jonas describes her approach to drawing and its role within her overall practice. “Drawing is like practicing the piano, because the first ones that I do often don’t come out so I have to practice,” says Jonas who handicaps herself by attaching her ink brushes and oil sticks to long rods or branches. “It’s almost accidental if they turn out.” While showing archived drawings of her dogs and an owl, Jonas discusses her interest in capturing an animal’s character through portraiture.

Working in performance, video, installation, sculpture, and drawing, Jonas finds inspiration in mythic stories, investing texts from the past with the politics of the present. Wearing masks and drawing while performing on stage, Jonas disrupts the conventions of theatrical storytelling to emphasize potent symbols and critical self-awareness.