Joanne Barrett


I’ve always been interested in portraits. It is a tangible way for an artist to show how they perceive another person, how that person is in their eyes. When I began drawing I always drew people, because it was a way to filter another person through my own structures of thought and feeling.

This mapping project has got me thinking of filtering in a new way. My time here in Siena is the first time I’ve been outside of America, and my first extended period out of Massachusetts. When I first arrived I noticed that I was constantly comparing Italy to Boston, looking for commonalities and differences that could fit into neat little categories. I felt very distanced from the space I was actually occupying, because the reality of it did not match the reality I was constructing in my mind.

As the time passed, I noticed that things I had initially put into the “differences” category were becoming more comfortable than the things put in the “similarities” column. Or rather, I could no longer tell the two apart. My process of filtering was actually effecting the reality I was trying to perceive, forcing me to identify or distance myself from certain aspects of life in Siena, or on a bigger scale, life in Europe. By relating familiar objects and routines here to those of mine back home, I could not see life here clearly. My actions seem to have no consequences, the things I see seem to belong to some dream world, and my habits and thought patterns that I filter this world through are a constant reminder of how strange this reality is.

Somehow I have found a parallel thread between filtering people while drawing portraits to filtering a place through familiar objects. I intend to use this connection to create nontraditional portraits of simple objects through which I have filtered my abroad experience.

Mapping can never really be finished.
You go on your whole life mapping what you see in the world and having it map you right back. Even in death, your impact and your absence create maps among the living.
I guess I’m feeling that things aren’t over. Seeing my objects-as-portraits in the gallery and in my studio I could see their coldness and emptiness and thought, I am simply not ready to map these things. They are too big to be approached in such limits.

That said, I have certainly learned a lot in my attempt to articulate the filters and maps of different places and times. Moreover, I have gone beyond learning into the realm of simply doing, which I trust will bring me back to learning once again.

For now though, I want to keep these pieces as a reminder of how time and place form their own maps, map me, and provide maps for memory and communication.

Leave a Reply