ABOUT THE ARTIST
Since I moved to New Mexico, 17 years ago, the major concentration of my artwork has been photography. I was mesmerized by the landscape and went on photo excursions all over the state. When I lived up north, the incredibly starry skies overwhelmed me, and the phenomenon of dark skies led me into night photography. NM is a landscape-photographer's dream, heavily saturated with beautiful places. I wanted to depict more than that – what the desaturation of beautiful places due to our lifestyles, might look like.
At the height of the 2020 Covid pandemic, and our fascist politics, stress levels hovered around the temperature of nuclear fusion. Quarantine and distancing became a way of life. With our new aloneness came weird dreams and depression. To escape I slept long hours, with sleep came dreams. I started a series of clay sculptures, combining them with my photographs. Bedtime became a theater of dreams. These were visions, in the desert, sky, on the sea, always on a bed.
The continued isolation became a prolific breeding ground of new work and direction. When I thought about death, and if I had a choice how I would leave this planet, I would choose sleep, in my bed. Floating away from the Earth into space, on a boat or a cloud, a bed of stars.
My work is a reaction to what is happening around me, the fight for the planet, our global integrity, more accurately describing what I feel than what I’m able to articulate. I continue to use my photographs, embellishing them with fragments of dreams – sculpted or found objects describing a detail of the picture in my mind.
Joan Zalenski is an accomplished interdisciplinary artist engaged in photography, ceramic and mixed media sculpture, and public art. Her work has been exhibited nationally, and she has received grants and commissions for major public art projects most notably in California, New York, Texas & New Mexico. Her work is represented in many private and public collections, including a permanent photographic installation at the Santa Fe Convention Center.
Ranging from alternative photography and photo-based collage to ceramic sculpture and assemblage, she often incorporates all these disciplines in one piece. She is also known for her interactive game pieces, installed at various Light Rail stations in Sacramento, CA and Fort Worth, TX. In 1977 she was invited for a summer residency at the innovative, experimental Visual Arts Program at Artpark in Lewiston, NY, where she completed three outdoor installations.
Joan Zalenski was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She received a BFA degree in Sculpture and Ceramics from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and studied for an MFA at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. After an artist-in-residence position at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA, she moved to the Bay Area in CA, where she completed several public art commissions in Oakland, Sacramento, and San Jose, CA. After multiple moves around the country including Texas where she established her photography career, Zalenski settled in New Mexico. She currently resides and works in Santa Fe, NM.