Joana Vasconcelos’ Crochet: Redefining Arts and Crafts

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Stumbling through the Internet looking for artistic inspiration, we fell upon the work of Joana Vasconcelos, which immediately brought smiles on our faces.  Her work is sure to energize artists. Here’s why:

The work of Joana Vasconcelos is vibrant, dynamic, and innovative. Her art pushes the viewer to think about materials, objects, and their usefulness. This is especially true because her work juxtaposes the real and the unreal and the expected and the unexpected.

When looking at her Crocheted Paintings series that spans from 2009 to 2014, a number of different associations begin to emerge. These three dimensional works, some of which are framed, draw the viewer in and spark the imagination. Through the colors, the patterns, and the material, these works link to many different ideas about art.

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Due to the fact that these pieces are based on hand crocheting they become associated with textiles, while also remaining firmly in the realm of painting. Even the title of the series begs the question of what it means to make a painting and whether this is exclusively limited to the medium of paint.

In many ways, there is a sense of fun in crocheting a painting and making it three-dimensional. These works bring the tradition of textile and handmade arts back into the vocabulary and yet also begin a dialogue about textiles, painting, sculpture, and installation. Vasconcelos toys with these ideas in her piece True Faith, 2014 which is displayed at the Manchester Art Gallery in Manchester, England.

This work contrasts heavily with the notion that paintings must be a static two-dimensional item. It also demonstrates that handmade textiles do not need to be flattened out and framed, they can also be multi-dimensional and interactive. Vasconcelos brings the craft of crocheting to life, gives it passion, and depth.

The work is colorful and unusual, and yet remains subtle in the ways it merges ideas and pushes viewers to reflect on the definitions of craft as art. Perhaps this is the reason that the piece True Faith is so memorable.

Through the technique of crocheting, which is utilized across the globe, the work True Faith demonstrates that new definitions can be created through the blending of artistic mediums. And most importantly, that these definitions are not static and constrained, but instead they are fluid and permeable. This is what makes the work by Vasconcelos so valuable, especially at a time when crafts such as the making of handmade textiles are slowly being forgotten.

More than anything the Crocheted Paintings series has a sense of humor precisely because the work is so reflexive about the norms that have come to define artwork. In addition, it is a gentle reminder to think about how valuable handmade works are, regardless of whether they are painted or stitched.

In a sense, looking at the work by Vasconcelos is a reminder not to take art so seriously, but to enjoy it for all of its colors, associations and ideas.

To check out Joana Vasconcelos’ upcoming exhibitions and artwork, browse around her website here:

What do you think of Vasconcelos’ work? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.