Grant Recipients Helen Frankenthaler Award for Painting Visual Arts 2022

Joan Waltemath

A black and white portrait of Joan Waltemath angled against a wide wall. While her body is angeled to the side, she faces the camera directly. Her hair is pulled into a low bun and she wears a black shirt and thin black textured scarf.
Photo by Paula Gately Tilman.
  • Artist, Professor
  • Born 1953, Nebraska
  • Lives in New York, NY
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  • Additional Information
  • joanwaltemath.net

Biography

Joan Waltemath is an artist whose work investigates the temporal and spatial registers of painting and drawing set in relation to architectonic elements. Informed by the cross-disciplinary exchange that began in 1970s downtown New York, her practice continues to respond dialogically to other media and disciplines.

Waltemath’s work emerges as a response to materials, visions, architectures, and historical contexts. Her series of eight large-scale paintings, The Treaty of 1868: an epic (2009-2018) takes as its subject her relationship to the genocide unleashed upon the Plains Indian tribes in the aftermath of the Fort Laramie treaty between the United States and the Dakota, Lakota, and Arapaho tribes. In 2011, after two years of work on the project, Waltemath sought out Lakota medicine man Dave Swallow and ceremonially requested his help in coming to terms with her legacy as a descendent of peoples who settled on the treaty land. Working on grounds of multiple sewn canvas panels, Waltemath’s paintings reflect the fractured and multi-perspectival nature of the history being told as she processes her ongoing relation with Swallow and his tiyospaye (“family of families”).

Her solo exhibitions include One does not negate the other, Peter Hionas Gallery, New York, NY (2015); Torso/Roots, Galerie von Bartha, Basel, Switzerland (2007); The invisible web of Iktomie iyokipi, Newspace, Los Angeles, CA (2002); and Joan Waltemath, The Drawing Center, New York, NY (1998). Her work was also presented in the group exhibition Géricault to Rockburne: Selections from the Michael and Juliet Rubenstein Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY (2020).

Waltemath is the recipient of the Jacob Lawrence Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2018); a Creative Capital Award for Treaty of 1868 (2012); and a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2008). She has participated in residencies at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, NE (2017); Art Farm, Marquette, NE (2014-2016, 2011, 2009); the Jentel Foundation, Banner, WY (2008, 2005); and The Edward F. Albee Foundation, Montauk, NY (2006, 2003).

She is the director of the LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art, a member of the editorial collective for PUBLIC Journal, and editor-at-large of The Brooklyn Rail. She holds a B.F.A. from Rhode Island School of Design and an M.F.A. from Hunter College.  

Artist Statement

I find myself challenging the notion that painting is experienced solely through vision. Building on what has come before in order to create the flow of time/space, means inseparability and complex connectivity. To find this place, we let go of our assumptions, beginning with the idea that painting is visible in a glance.

My work expands with your extended attention; being present engages your senses in the work of connecting through your being. When you approach my constructions, they are closed—you can see the basic design. Is that it? If you can still yourself long enough to experience the algorithms forming the ground layer, correspondences appear and become a vehicle to move through the composition. Now the markings can guide you.

These dimensions are not limited to the Euclidean world. The perceiver is not separate from the perceived. As synchronicity increases, depth opens up; this is the operative ratio of ceremonial space. My thoughts are coming at a time when our souls have been blasted apart by a world of constant interruption. To experience art as an impression on the soul requires preparation and an ability to focus the mind on matter.

- December 2021

An abstract artwork hangs from a white wall. The canvas is divided into a few squares. On the bottom third, in the middle, there are small black thin-line drawings. In the middle third, on the left, there is a pale yellow square, a small neon orange arch, and a burgundy textured square. There are also thick white looping lines forming patterns in this third. In the top third, there are two long thick black lines.
M’s Crossing (1 2 3 5 8 west), 2016-2017, oil, lead white, marble dust, hematite, copper, iron oxide, aluminum, interference, florescent, mica, phosphorescent pigment on prepared natural and black canvas sewn from individual pieces, 172" x 168.5," at American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, 2018. Photo by Farzad Owrang.
An abstract artwork on white paper which is marked by a partial graph constructed in light pencil and some pink ink. Some small squares made from the graph are colored in yellow. Beige paint forms abstract shapes atop everything. Thin line drawings in black overlay that.
1 2 3 5 8 west / X0 seeing, 2020, pencil, colored pencil, casein, gouache, egg tempera, watercolor, oil pastel, neo crayon, iridescent crayon, conté crayon, graphite stick, paint stick, acrylic ink on 640 gm cotton and linen paper, 30" x 30." Photo by Farzad Owrang.
An abstract artwork with a pencil drawn partial graph with two small yellow shapes in the upper right corner and a few small abstract shapes in dark brown in the upper right. In the lower right, there is a large abstract shape of medium gray and a smaller abstract shape of brown.
1 3 4 7 below / rabbit eaters, 2020, pencil, colored pencil, casein, gouache, egg tempera, watercolor, oil pastel, neo crayon, iridescent crayon, conté crayon, graphite stick, paint stick, metallic ink, acrylic ink on 640 gm cotton and linen paper, 30" x 30." Photo by Farzad Owrang.
An abstract artwork with a pencil drawn partial graph on white paper. On top of the graph there is a light grey, peach, and pink shape that begins in the upper right corner and moves towards the lower left.
1 3 4 7 below / buffalo dreamers, 2020, pencil, colored pencil, casein, gouache, egg tempera, watercolor, oil pastel, neo crayon, conté crayon, graphite stick, paint stick on 640 gm cotton and linen paper, 30" x 30." Photo by Farzad Owrang.
An abstract artwork with a pencil grid and shapes filled in with light yellow and light grey. In the upper right hand corner there is a small sideways red arch. Light grey abstract shapes populate the center of the canvas.
1 2 3 5 8 east / turn wheel, 2020, pencil, colored pencil, casein, gouache, egg tempera, watercolor, oil pastel, neo crayon, iridescent crayon, conté crayon, paint stick, metallic ink on 640 gm cotton and linen paper, 30" x 30." Photo by Farzad Owrang.
An abstract artwork with a pencil grid and a few shapes filled in with light yellow. A few small shapes of red populate the lower right corner of the work. On the top of the work there is a red spiral.
1 3 4 7 east / dancing formless, 2020, pencil, colored pencil, casein, gouache, egg tempera, watercolor, oil pastel, neo crayon, iridescent crayon, conté crayon, paint stick, metallic ink, acrylic ink, luma dye on 640 gm cotton and linen paper, 30" x 30." Photo by Farzad Owrang.