Joan Linder (b. 1970), Blue Weed (Front Sidewalk), 2010; Ink on paper, 100 x 30 inches; Collectors Club Fund in memory of Lee Rubin, 2016
Labels by Cohen Sulzbach, MST 622 Researching & Presenting Museum Collections, 2020
Artist Joan Linder uses an exceptional eye for detail to enlarge and enhance objects from throughout her life, whether it be a sidewalk weed, an egg carton, or a building. She draws attention to things some people might find mundane, giving them new life and new meaning. While weeds are generally seen as something to get rid of, the artist has given a reason to pause and possibly reconsider complete destruction. When viewing the intense detail given in Blue Weed, you can imagine the beauty the artist saw in this small plant. You can also appreciate the time and the mastery that she devoted to such a project. Just as this art piece grew to larger than life proportions, contemplate how some challenges in life can also expand to epic scale when you don’t see them as clearly as you can see the details of this stunning blue weed.
Have you ever seen a plant this big that wasn’t a tree? The artist took a small weed from her front sidewalk and made it into a huge beautiful drawing. She wants to make sure you can see all of the beauty and all the tiny details in even the most common things like weeds, buildings, and random things from all aspects of life. When someone really wants you to look at something, they make it really big. Did the artist do a good job at capturing your attention? How tall would you have to be to reach the top? How many pens did it take her to draw it? Beauty can be found in everything, if you know where to look.
This exquisite and super-realist drawing demonstrates Joan Linder’s concern for environment and her mastery of drawing from direct observation. Her artist’s statement summarizes her aesthetic and process:
In culture hyper-saturated by electronic imagery I use the traditional materials of a quill pen and a bottle of ink to create large-scale images that persist in exploring and claiming the sub-technological process of observation and mark making. In my recent work I am creating life-size representation of figures and objects. There is a vital relationship that arises between the observer and the observed on a scale of one to one. The sleight or sloppiness of hand creates an awkward and intimate surface which is compounded by the definite and energized process of crosshatching.
My subjects include the banality of mass-produced domestic artifacts; the politics of war; sexual identity and power; and the beauty disclosed in the close scrutiny of natural and manmade structures. This diversity of subject matter is a critical element in my attempt to express the complexity and variety of contemporary life.