Joy Bertinuson

Like most kids I began to draw at an early age, and I took to it as well as many. Drawings of big lop-sided heads, later with teeth, occupied my formative years. My earliest portraits were of celebrities from my childhood, including Cher and Flip Wilson, taken straight from the television screen. I also had an interest in teaching from the day I learned to read and write. My first pupil was a small, shaggy black dog named Mitzi, who was my grandparent’s beloved pet. In an attempt to share my knowledge with her (I believed in earnest that she too could learn to read and write with proper training) I inadvertently taught her a new trick; to shake. It wasn’t until several floundering attempts to pass my community college classes that I took an oil painting class one summer at someone’s suggestion. I had not given art any serious consideration, and certainly not as a major, until my success in that singular class. From then on I was hooked, and I was motivated to be successful in all of my classes each semester. One afternoon a recruiter was on campus signing up students to enroll at California State University, Sacramento (Sac State), so I signed up and was later accepted.
I went on to earn a BA in Studio Art from Sac State, and I attended classes at The School of the Art Institute, Chicago after getting my bachelor of arts degree. Following numerous teaching gigs, from working with the developmentally disabled to incarcerated youth offenders, and after some procrastination, I earned an MFA from Claremont Graduate University. I chose to return to Sacramento after graduate school and was hired to teach studio and art appreciation courses at American River College (ARC) and shortly thereafter taught at Sierra College in Rocklin. Most recently I was hired at California State University, Sacramento, nearly 20 years since earning my BA on the same campus, and I continue to teach at ARC. I visit local art galleries regularly, and try to get out to the Bay Area galleries and museums as well. I also view work online, and travel yearly outside of California to see art. I am involved in the local arts scene in various ways and I exhibit my work when I have the opportunity to do so. I have participated in several collaborative projects, and I have curated exhibits, and formally discussed my work various educational settings.
Although the appearance of my work continues to change and develop, there are several themes that recur in many of the paintings and drawings. Generally, the human condition, is my main interest; whether absorbed in contradiction and absurdity, or enveloped in violence, or entranced by domestic comforts. Specifically, the work is informed by the way I look at, experience, and think about my environment, and those around me. I am also influenced, formally and conceptually, by many other artists, both living and dead, and I am affected by the sorts of things I read, and even by the music I listen to. I believe that this is true of many artists.
There are certain images and ideas that I am drawn to, that may carry certain associations, that I use in my work, and whose meanings often change or reveal themselves after they’ve made an appearance. The meaning that I ascribe my own work is an important element, but it is also unstable and occasionally transient. Sometimes I am only able to articulate my feelings and ideas about something I’ve made, long after it’s been created. And of course, once out in the world, the work is subject to interpretation by anyone who comes into contact with it. The themes that I am drawn to are absence (violence, death, post or pre apocalyptic events), humor (absurdity), domesticity (occasionally idyllic; a place to explore sexuality and creativity, and also a place of violence and loss), as well as artist related themes (mentorship, appropriation, the gallery scene). Through images of objects, and of figures, these themes are more or less revealed within the narratives presented in my work. In terms of subject matter, I think of my images as a sort of history painting, in a way, albeit a personal history.

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