Tag Archives: Healing

Artist Feature: Joanna Poz-Molesky

Joanna Poz-Molesky

JUNTOS addresses the need for human connections to inspire one another to create positive change and simultaneously to heal suffering…By using community outreach in art, I hope to offer expression, inspiration, healing, sharing, and most importantly, love.

– Joanna Poz-Molesky

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

JPM: I was born in Berkeley, California and currently reside in Oakland. Although I spent most of my life there, I’ve also lived in Guatemala and New York City. 

I recognize that as artists, we all share part of our story and message. I was born into a bi-cultural household – my father a Maya from a rural village in the Guatemalan highlands who finished high school, my mother an ex-nun with her Ph.D from a middle-class San Francisco family. I realize that as a bi-cultural woman, life presents me with wonderful opportunities to experience the richness and understandings of various heritages as well as offers me possibilities to communicate with these cultures. I recognize art as my way of celebrating my heritage as well as sharing my knowledge, especially with those living in isolation.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

JPM: I really do believe that if anything has a chance to create a more peaceful world, it’s art. We don’t decide to be artists: we are called. Our voices are all so different – each stemming from past experiences, how we view our environment, time we share with individuals, and cultures we are surrounded by – but each voice speaks to its own truth. We have a responsibility to respond to hate, violence, and pain we humans bring this world. If we use our varying voices to speak to these issues, we shine light that becomes truth and beauty. I have come to recognize artists as therapists for the soul, spiritual versions of chiropractors. Art is healing and we are its vessel. Sometimes, we too are the ones that are in need of this healing and when we create and share, we gain strength and knowledge.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

JPM: My work is not an individual piece of art. I founded and direct JUNTOS Collective – a non-profit dance company that empowers individuals and inspires community building across national boundaries with a strong focus in Latin America through teaching, learning, and exchanging dance.

JUNTOS Collective

JUNTOS Collective

JUNTOS addresses the need for human connections to inspire one another to create positive change and simultaneously to heal suffering. It is the first collective comprised of university students at various competitive dance conservatories dedicated to creating community across international borders through dance. In partnering with various communities in Central America and the United States, JUNTOS introduces an innovative method in which participants maintain and strengthen national and international relationships while encouraging individuals to become persons serving others. JUNTOS recognizes the many problems humanity faces and attempts to reconcile differences, offering a new method to create change.

JUNTOS Collective

JUNTOS Collective

By using community outreach in art, I hope to offer expression, inspiration, healing, sharing, and most importantly, love. Being in love does not consist of loving everything; being in love with life and with what you do exerts kindness, imagination, drive, how you live your life and can lead to a compassionate and honest world. I propose to offer a piece of this love with my company. I hope to inspire others to share love, weave communities, people, and differences together to create a more peaceful world.

JUNTOS Collective

Who or what inspires you?

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Feature: Frances Bradley

We’re proud to welcome Brooklyn-based artist Frances Bradley to the Collective. Honoring the charge of art as she shines light on a dark topic and speaks about expression so honest it has life of its own—Frances eloquently tells us about her work, including her current project entitled Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt?. Another humbling feature, undeniably powerful and sincerely purposed.

Frances Bradley

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

 FB: I am from Flint, Michigan and I am currently in Brooklyn, NY.

 What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

 FB: To me reflection means recalling past memories and events and response is simply addressing and reacting to those events.

How does your project Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? fit in with that definition?

 FB: The artwork of Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? are perfect examples of reflection and response.

Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? is a 12-piece autobiographical art series that illustrates my experience as a victim and survivor of sexual violence. The series was conceptualized during therapy and each piece is a portrayal of what I was feeling while I was being raped and the experiences that followed. Every piece requires reflection.

Only four out of 12 pieces have been completed, titled Broken, Zip, Unzip and Transformation. The life-size artwork is painted with traditional mediums such as oil on stretched canvas and features collaged poetry taken directly from my therapy journal.

"Broken" - Acrylic, Oil, and Collage on Stretched Canvas, 5' x 5'

“Broken” – Acrylic, Oil, and Collage on Stretched Canvas, 5′ x 5′

Broken is an illustration of when I was sexually violated. It’s titled Broken because I was a virgin when it happened – thus being physically, mentally and emotionally Broken.

"Zip" - Oil on Stretched Canvas, 5' x 6'

“Zip” – Oil on Stretched Canvas, 5′ x 6′

Zip portrays my feelings of isolation and fear of telling someone about being violated due to shame and the potential of being further victimized.

"Unzip" - Oil on Stretched Canvas, 3' x 6'

“Unzip” – Oil on Stretched Canvas, 3′ x 6′

Unzip depicts what happened when I decided to speak up and shows the collective response from my family members.

"Transformation" - Oil on Stretched Canvas, 5' x 6'

“Transformation” – Oil on Stretched Canvas, 5′ x 6′

The last piece of the series, Transformation, portrays the pieces of me that were shed as a direct result of my healing and the new person that has emerged from this experience.

This project is so important because it is my personal response to a traumatic experience and creating it is a part of my healing process. And now, I am using it as a tool to empower other victims who have suffered from similar experiences and who also need to find a way to heal. I truly believe artistic expression is a means to heal and I am working to promote the Art of Healing with Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt?.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

FB: I have experienced so many emotions – including sympathy for Trayvon Martin’s family, sadness, hurt, pain and surprise – following his murder and George Zimmerman’s acquittal. My natural reaction as an artist is to express my emotions through art.

So, I’m currently working on a piece that conveys my feelings about Trayvon’s murder. This piece will actually be a part of a developing mixed media series that addresses social injustices that have been “justified” by America’s “justice system.”

"Oscar Grant" - Mixed Media on Stretched Canvas, 3' x 6'

“Oscar Grant” – Mixed Media on Stretched Canvas, 3′ x 6′

I’ve already created a piece titled, “Oscar Grant” that addresses the murder of Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day in 2009. The first time I watched that murder on YouTube I was moved to tears and, much like Trayvon’s murder, an outpouring of emotion turned into a palate for expression.

"Bang Bang" - Mixed Media on Stretched Canvas, 18" x 24"

“Bang Bang” – Mixed Media on Stretched Canvas, 18″ x 24″

The second piece is titled, “Bang-Bang” and was created during last year’s national protest that took place all in the name of Trayvon Martin. It’s a mixed media piece that not only touches on the injustice of Martin’s death, but also illustrates the fatally repetitious acts of racism and devaluation of the lives of melanated people in America.

"I Am A Man" - Mixed Media on Stretched Canvas, 24" x 48"

“I Am A Man” – Mixed Media on Stretched Canvas, 24″ x 48″

There is also a commissioned work titled, “I Am A Man” that speaks to the value of the lives of melanated men.

As far as what’s next for me, I plan to tap into the film world and release a few short documentaries that I’ve been working on. So please stay tuned.

Who or what inspires you?

FB: I’m inspired by life, the struggle, politics, history, spirituality, culture and the world. I find inspiration from people of all walks of life. I think living in Brooklyn, New York and being raised in Flint, Michigan has helped me to understand what struggle really is and I’ve witnessed first-hand, poverty on many levels. I’m so inspired by life’s lessons, and it drives me to use my gifts to empower, educate and instill hope and strength.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

FB: I am currently raising $25,000 to complete the Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? series. The purpose of this work is to create conversations about sexual violence, its impact on victims and to promote healing through the arts. This is my experience but its every victim’s story and it needs to be told through the universal language of art.

I invite the Collective to learn more about the Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? project by visiting www.womanhoodorwomanshurt.com, contribute to the campaign at www.gofundme.com/womanhoodorwomanshurt and Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/womanhoodorwomanshurt. If you’re interested in viewing my other artwork please visit www.nielahstudios.com. All of my art is available for purchase at www.etsy.com/shop/nielahstudios.

I welcome your thoughts so please feel free to contact me at booknielahstudios@gmail.com

Shout out to…?

FB: The Lifestyle for being interested in my work and providing me with the opportunity to share it with others. Thanks to all the victims and survivors of sexual violence who have shared their stories with me. This work is for YOU. Special thanks to my creative team, Tanya Jackson (videographer/editor) and LaToya English (public relations representative) for their dedication and for believing in my project enough to have sacrificed long hours to see this project come to fruition. THANK YOU. Thank you to my friends, family and supporters who continue to support my dreams and have contributed to my campaign, and to those who have helped me spread the word. I appreciate all of your positive responses and support. Thank you.

Reflection and Response.

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