ExpressJune 15, 2023

EXPRESS: Jo Nanajian, Boston, MA (@jo_nanajian)

As an artist that indulges in many mediums, it’s difficult to identify exactly what my category of artistry truly is. Technically, I’d consider myself to be a painter, but I really paint through textures. The sculptural aspect of my work creates dialogues between each other which in turn tells a story of the emotions that are embedded deep within myself. Driven by my intuition and gesture, I create these large scale abstracted pieces with a goal of capturing the unprocessed emotions from feelings of lost control. The repressed memories that were pushed so far down my consciousness are finally being built back up through this additive process of textured material on canvas. All these emotions and explorations are a response to the death of my “American Dream”.

Originally born in Beirut, Lebanon, and migrating to the United States at just 12 years old, I keep finding myself faced with the dilemma of maintaining my ethnic identity or joining the mainstream wave of America. Each abstract painting is a map to a different memory that is distorted and fuzzy, while also resembling that feeling of loss and no control. A void that has been left due to the loss of home and familiarity that I am endlessly trying to fill. Currently based in Boston being a coastal state, has created a hub of vastly diverse immigrant black/brown communities that can be left unrecognized and, more directly, entirely segregated. With a thick haziness of a commercialized presence of colonialism, tourists come into the city with thoughts of a starting point of american freedom, duck boats, and clam chowder, when in my personal reality those are not my experiences as an actual resident. With this practice, I continue to delve into my distant memories of war, destruction, and misogyny, as a form of healing while also fighting the generational and societal oppressions. Thus finding an audience who may relate to my work and understanding of the importance of unraveling our wounds that have been buried by ourselves, our families, and the world around us.

EXPRESS is a new section of our blog devoted to YTP’s creative community.


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